Melbourne Victory playmaker James Troisi may not play again this season after suffering a hamstring tear in last weekend's A-League loss to Adelaide.
Troisi, the joint A-League leader for assists, will miss two weeks of football, starting with Tuesday night's Asian Champions League (ACL) clash with Chinese giants Guangzhou Evergrande.
It also means Troisi will miss the almost-confirmed elimination final with Melbourne City in week one of the finals series.
Coach Kevin Muscat said the combination of Troisi's unavailability, player fatigue and the almost non-existent chance of ACL progression meant fringe players would get a chance to play against Guangzhou.
"Safe to say there will be a few changes to our team," Muscat said.
"(Troisi) is a bit flat naturally. This time of the year ... it's far from ideal.
"He's been working tirelessly and he's made good progress already."
Muscat confirmed goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas would return to action for the first time this month after a knee injury.
He wouldn't elaborate on other starters but his stance brings Kenny Athiu, Corey Brown, Rahmat Akbari and Anthony Lesiotis into the frame.
Victory's three losses in the competition to date renders their remaining three ACL matches all but meaningless.
Group stage opponents Guangzhou, Daegu FC and Sanfrecce Hiroshima all have two wins and will battle for two places, meaning the Fabio Cannavaro-coached Chinese visitors are unlikely to let up at AAMI Park.
With Victory's round 27 clash with Western Sydney also having no impact on the competition's final standings, captain Carl Valeri admitted it was odd to have two matches with little importance before the side's week-one final.
"Although these games don't mean much, it's going to mean a lot for our campaign in the future ... for us to build up some momentum," he said.
Muscat said the two games "meant a hell of a lot".
"They might not on the scoreline but there's so much more to games of football than the end result," he said.
"Every training session means so much. I don't think that, I know that.
"I'm not going to accept from anybody else not to be in the same frame of mind.
"Waiting to turn up in two weeks time ... isn't going to help us. We've got to stay and remain in that focus and that zone."
City's loss to Wellington on Sunday means only an unlikely combination of results will lift them to fifth, dodging an elimination final with Victory.
Australian Associated Press