Loyola Meralco’s backline depth gets tested anew when it tangles with Pachanga-PLDT Home Fibr in the hope of keeping its firm hold of the United Football League leadership on Tuesday at the Emperador Stadium in Mckinley Hill.
While top center-back Joaco Cañas has returned, the Sparks will miss defenders Sam Bonney and Yves Ashime when the powerhouse squad faces its 2013 UFL Cup finale opponent once again at 7:30 p.m.
Coming off a layoff due to measles, the Spanish Cañas was able to get a run-through in the second half of the 5-0 drubbing of Pasargad last Tuesday, where Bonney was sent off for picking up two yellow cards, and Ashime strained his ankle.
Korean midfielder Bo Bae Park also remains out with an injury for the league-leading Sparks, who are just ahead of Global FC by a precarious point in the nine-team table.
In their absence, Sparks coach Vince Santos is expected to deploy Rodrigue Nembot and give Cañas more minutes.
“It’s not good for us to miss Sam and Yves, but at least we have people ready to rotate,” said Santos, who also welcomes back James Younghuband to the fold. The Sparks skipper had been out with a quadriceps injury.
Loyola nipped Pachanga in a come-from-behind 2-1 win in the first round and is expected to have another tough time against a team coming off a 1-1 draw against Kaya last Saturday.
Pasargad, stuck at the bottom, presses its bid to avoid relegation as it faces fourth-running Stallion earlier at 5:15 p.m.