RELIEVED Roar fullback Jack Hingert will wear a specially designed facial mask when he returns from a fractured cheekbone in Brisbane's do-or-die A-League semi-final against Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park on Sunday.
Hingert hasn't played since the Roar's 2-1 AFC Champions League win over Kashima Antlers at Suncorp Stadium on April 12.
A clash of heads left him floored for several minutes, and despite finishing the match, he was later found to have four fractures in his cheekbone.
Since then Brisbane has used Cameron Crestani and Jade North at right back, but Hingert is the undoubted first choice in the position.
The 26-year-old defender initially feared his season was over, but after successful surgery, which included inserting three metal plates, he is confident of playing a key role in the Roar's bid for a fourth A-League title in seven years.
"I've missed out on finals before with injury and I didn't want that to happen again," Hingert said.
"The mask isn't attractive but it'll do the job for me."
Hingert's availability, plus the small chance that skipper Matt McKay will return from the knee injury that has sidelined him since March 19, is a boost for the Roar, whose squad is fully stretched this week as they juggle Champions League and A-League commitments.
The Roar meet Muangthong United in a Champions League Group E match in Thailand on Wednesday night before flying straight to Melbourne on Thursday to prepare for Sunday's battle with the Victory.
"Matty and Jack are going along nicely," Roar coach John Aloisi said.
"With Matty, we should know by the end of the week if he's right to play.
"He's looking good, he's feeling really good and there are just a couple of more tests he needs to get through.
"He's a fit guy and he hasn't lost any fitness. It's just making sure he's confident with his knee."
The Roar will field a largely inexperienced side against Muangthong, having made the A-League their priority.
Among the omissions are suspended pair Corey Brown and Avraam Papadopolous, the ill Jade North and the injured Michael Theo, who will miss the rest of the season with medial ligament damage.
But the travelling squad does include experienced Spanish winger Manuel Arana, who has battled a hamstring injury since the Roar's 3-1 away loss to Perth Glory on April 8.
Departing 36-year-old playmaker Thomas Broich has also made the trip to Thailand.
The Roar need a win night to keep alive their hopes of progressing to the Champions League knockout stages for the first time in the club's history.
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