MELBOURNE (REUTERS) - Former Spain striker David Villa will definitely make his A-League football debut for Melbourne City this weekend but is not certain to start Saturday's match at Sydney FC, manager John van't Schip said on Friday.
Villa is the highest profile recruit to the A-League this season and there is much excitement about his 10-game guest stint on loan from New York City.
The 32-year-old has not played since Spain's final match of the World Cup against Australia, though, and having arrived in Melbourne on Monday, there was some doubt about whether he would be fit for the season-opener at Sydney Football Stadium.
"Yes, he is going to be part of the game and we will just see which part," van't Schip told reporters. "We know he's fit, he can play, he wants to play."
Villa won the World Cup with Spain in 2010 and helped Atletico Madrid to last season's La Liga league title after moving to the capital from a successful spell at Barcelona.
City finished bottom of the A-League as Melbourne Heart last season and will most of all be looking to the Spaniard for goals - he scored a record 59 for his country - to kick-start their campaign.
Saturday's match will also be the club's first A-League clash as Melbourne City after a re-brand in the wake of the takeover by English champions Manchester City, who also own American soccer team New York City.
The Melbourne outfit's desire to switch the red and white stripes worn by Heart for the sky blue shirt of their parent club has been scuppered by Football Federation Australia (FFA).
That the FFA decision came at the behest of Sydney FC, who have worn the colour since their inception, might not add an extra edge to Saturday's match but Villa can certainly expect a robust welcome from the home defence.
"I just hope he's ready," former Leeds United, Liverpool and Melbourne Heart striker Harry Kewell said on Thursday. "Playing at the highest level in Europe it's different to here, it's a lot more physical here, it's a lot tougher."