If Western Sydney Wanderers skipper Mitchell Duke needed any reminding it’s Sydney Derby week in the Hyundai A-League he only needs to look down at his phone.
The Socceroo striker's inbox has again been running hot this week with messages of support as the Wanderers aim to create their own slice of Sydney Derby history.
Neither side in the history of this fixture have won all three derbies in a regular season but it’s an opportunity the Red and Black have in front of them heading into Saturday night’s clash at Bankwest Stadium.
Both previous matches this season have ended in 1-0 wins for the Wanderers, the first at Parramatta in October, followed by last month’s success on their bitter rivals’ home turf.
While achieving some derby history would be huge for Duke and his teammates, any chance to topple their rivals in Sky Blue is motivation enough.
“Every game for us is so important just to get the result but for the fans, I know how passionate they are about these kinds of games and getting those bragging rights over Sydney FC,” Duke told Wanderers TV.
“I constantly get private messages every time we’re coming up against them [saying] ‘make sure you get the result, this is more than just a game and this is our area we’re representing and we have to get the job done’.
“It’s definitely for the fans and we hope that we can repay that and get that clean sweep this season and be the only team to beat Sydney FC so far this year.”
If the Wanderers are to complete a hat-trick of wins over the Sky Blues then Duke is likely to play a key role.
That was certainly the case in the first two matches, with Duke getting the better of Socceroos teammates Rhyan Grant and Andrew Redmayne by netting the winner on both occasions with towering headers.
“As a striker you want to score every game that you plan in and that’s no different,” Duke said.
“I didn’t score last [weekend against Melbourne City] so I’m even hungrier now to go into the Sydney FC game ready to score or score a double and put them to the sword again and set us up for a good finish to the season and get back in the finals.”
Saturday’s match – which will be played behind closed doors due to the current COVID-19 situation – is the first of four home games the Wanderers have in the final six rounds.
Asked how important that will be in their hopes of making the Finals Series, Duke said: “We’ve got a very smooth run home in that regard but it also does make you feel for other teams not having such an easy run.
“Especially with this coronavirus stuff happening. You don’t know where teams are going to be based like the Perth Glory or Wellington Phoenix.
“You can sympathise with those clubs if they are reluctant to get out there and play those games, but for us if that’s the advantage we have then we’ve got to use it and take it.”
The Wanderers will welcome back Daniel Georgievski for Saturday’s clash, with the experienced defender having served his two-game ban for his red card against the Sky Blues last month.
Western Sydney Wanderers v Sydney FC
Saturday, 21 March
Kick-off: 7.30pm AEDT