INJURY and international duty threaten to rob the A-League of one of the stellar match-ups of the season when Newcastle Jets host glamour club Sydney FC at EnergyAustralia Stadium on Sunday.
A crowd of more than 15,000 is expected for the first match between the two clubs favoured to play in the inaugural grand final of the new national competition.
And then there's the mouth-watering prospect of the two most celebrated strikers in the league going head-to-head.
There is little doubt that the showdown between Newcastle's Ante Milicic, one short of cracking the 100 career goals in the national competition, and Sydney's Dwight Yorke, the $1million face of the A-League, will be one of the highlights of the season.
Yorke, the former Manchester United star, has been regularly nominated as the man most likely to end the season as the league's leading goalscorer - something that irked Milicic, who was the top scorer in the final season of the NSL.
"I don't care who they bring out, Dwight Yorke, anyone ... I will finish top scorer this season, and you can quote me," Milicic said before the season began.
Yorke got the jump on Milicic when he scored in his debut for Sydney against Melbourne in the opening match, but Milicic responded last week with a goal in the 1-1 draw with the Central Coast Mariners while Yorke was on international duty with Trinidad and Tobago.
The battle was set to resume on Sunday, but now hangs in the balance, with suggestions both players could be missing from the third-round match.
Milicic is battling a hamstring strain and told The Australian yesterday he was "only a 50-50 chance" of playing.
Yorke is not expected to arrive back in Sydney until Saturday morning, when a decision will be made on his availability.
No-one is more disappointed about the situation than Milicic.
"I desperately want to play on Sunday because a lot of people have been hyping up the battle with Dwight Yorke," Milicic said. "And that is great.
"But I felt the hammy last Sunday. It is not a tear, but I knew I had to go off in the second half. I will give myself every chance of playing by having daily treatment and leave a decision until the day of the game.
"It would be hugely disappointing if I missed out, but there are another two rounds to go, so I don't want to wreck my season for one game."
A Sydney FC spokesman said Yorke was keen to play against the Jets.
"(Coach) Pierre (Littbarski) spoke to him straight after Trinidad and Tobago's first match the other day and he said he was keen to play on Sunday," the spokesman said. "But he has to play again tomorrow, so you just don't know how he will pull up. It will be a matter of waiting and seeing."
Sydney will at least welcome the return of striker Sasho Petrovski, who missed the 3-1 win over New Zealand last week because he was on duty with the Socceroos. "Sasho didn't get a game against the Solomons, so he is really biting at the bit to play on Sunday," the spokesman said.