GLORY PRIMED FOR HEART TESTS

As Perth Glory prepares to ramp up its pre-season preparations by tackling Melbourne Heart twice in the space of four days, Head Coach Alistair Edwards is relishing the prospect of seeing how his charges match up against their A-League rivals.

As Perth Glory prepares to ramp up its pre-season preparations by tackling Melbourne Heart twice in the space of four days, Head Coach Alistair Edwards is relishing the prospect of seeing how his charges match up against their A-League rivals.

"These two games will definitely take the intensity of our pre-season campaign to another level and I'm really looking forward to them," he said. "It's crucial that all of our players are gaining valuable experience and game time as we head towards the A-League season and we are going to be playing all of our squad over the course of the two games. "In terms of team news, our two most recent signings, Dean Evans and Harry O'Brien will both play in the first game, Matt Davies is back from his trip to Spain with the Young Socceroos and we'll be giving some game time to young goalkeeper Nick Feely who has been training with us in recent weeks. "Injury-wise, Chris Harold (ankle), Riley Woodcock (abdomen) and Ndumba Makeche (knee) will all miss the game on Wednesday, although Chris could be back on Saturday."

Glory's last three friendly outings have yielded comfortable victories over Malaysian side Johor and State League outfits Cockburn and Stirling, but Edwards is keen to emphasise that results are not the club's main priority during pre-season.

"For me," he said, "if your pre-season is only about results, your team will never ever reach its potential because pre-season is all about getting players fit for the season, trying out different tactical approaches and giving players experience. "It's also about fully instilling your philosophy and playing style into the playing group so that whenever a situation arises during the season that we need to bring any of our players into the matchday squad, they will be able to fit seamlessly into the team. "It just so happens that we've had some good results along the way, but that has not been our focus. "It's all about preparation for the A-League season proper."

After Wednesday afternoon's clash at Inglewood's Intiga Stadium, players from both squads will be involved in community visits in the Mandurah area as part of a regional festival of football and Glory's coach feels that given their track record, Heart are a perfect fit for such activities.

"Reaching out to regional areas is something that Heart made a priority from day one and have done extremely well," he said, "and that's one of the reasons why we asked them to come over. "We know that that is one of the key values of their club and it fits alongside what we're trying to do here at Glory. "They were the first team we thought of because they see the value in embracing regional Victoria and we see the value in embracing regional WA. "We have a responsibility as a club at the top end of the game in this country to bring the game to as many people as possible and that includes going to regional WA because we all know that the likes of Josh Risdon and many other players develop in those areas."

New Heart skipper Harry Kewell will inevitably be the focus of attention during those community activities and Edwards is thrilled that WA locals will have an opportunity to get up close and personal with one of the greatest ever Socceroos.

"Harry has done incredible things for Australian football," he said, "and it's fantastic that he's here. "He conjures so many memories of greatness and it's wonderful that people here in Perth and in the regions will have a chance to see such a superstar at close-quarters. "I should also mention that Harry and Heart wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the funding provided by the Country Sport Enrichment Scheme. "On behalf of the club, I'd like to them and also thank Heart for coming over for five days and visiting schools and various other stakeholder in the game as part of a festival of football."

Match Details - Perth Glory FC v Melbourne Heart FC

Wednesday 11 September Intiga Stadium Hamer Parade, Inglewood KO 3.30pm Adults $10 Under 16 & under Free

Saturday 14 September Hyundai Stadium Mandurah City FC, Peelwood Reserve, Mandurah KO 3pm Adults $15 Children $5

Gareth Morgan