Match Preview: Glory 'determined and focused' ahead of Phoenix test

Tony Popovic has spoken of a steely resolve within his playing group as they prepare for Friday's Round 18 clash with Wellington Phoenix at HBF Park (kick-off at 6.45pm, tickets HERE).

Popa's presser in full

Glory will be looking to extend their unbeaten run to nine games and in doing so, widen, or at least maintain, the gap between themselves and the visitors who are currently one place and two points behind them on the ladder.

And Popovic is expecting the men in purple to rise to the occasion. 

"They [Wellington] are having a great season so far and have been very consistent," he said.

"They started by losing their first four games, a little similar to us, with our run extending a bit longer than theirs.

"Now we find ourselves close to each other on the table in a good position and we both want to kick on.

"They've had the bye, so we know they'll come here refreshed and ready for a big game.

"But there's a real determination and focus among the players to out on a really good performance on Friday and we're looking forward to it."

Popovic went on to discuss Glory's defensive display in last week's 2-2 draw with Melbourne Victory before acknowledging that like the navy-and-whites, Phoenix pose a serious attacking threat.

"You don't become deficient now after seven games of top defending," he said.

"We had a few off-moments and conceded two very good individual goals.

"Apart from that, we didn't give away too many chances.

"That's not to say we were happy with our defending, but not too much has been said about that.

"They [the players] understand where that was at, but they did well enough to stay in the game and get an equaliser.

"Overall it was a pleasing result and we hope to be better on Friday.

"In attack they [Wellington] are scoring goals and playing a good brand of football and defensively they have also been really strong.

"When you look at their backline, they've been very stable and haven't changed many players and they're making it very hard for teams to break them down.

"As a whole, they are doing a very good job."

In terms of early team news, meanwhile, Glory's Head Coach confirmed that skipper Diego Castro is a chance to return to the squad for Friday.

"We'll see with Diego," he said.

"For a couple of weeks he was struggling a bit there with training and playing, not that you could really tell by the way he played.

"But we know how he feels because we work with him every day.

"I'm not sure he'll be right for Friday, but if he is, I'm sure he'll put his hand up.

"He's on a light session today [Wednesday] and on the pitch with us tomorrow, so if he's good tomorrow, he'll be involved.

"Osama [Malik] has been back for almost two weeks now, training with the team.

"He's getting closer and is available for selection, but Juande is till not fit enough to be selected."

Glory will be looking to add to a run of three successive wins over Phoenix in which they have scored ten goals and conceded just one.

But Ufuk Talay's men will make the long trip from New Zealand in buoyant mood having suffered only one defeat since Round 4.

Match Details and Squads

Friday, 7 February 2020

Perth Glory v Wellington Phoenix

HBF Park, Perth

Kick-Off: 6:45pm (Local) (9:45pm (AEDT))

Referee: Adam Kersey

Assistant Referee 1: Josh Mannella

Assistant Referee 2: Arvin Shanmuganathan

Fourth Official: Shane Skinner

VAR: Craig Zetter

Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #PERvWEL

Perth Glory squad: 1.Tando VELAPHI (gk), 2.Alex GRANT, 3.Jacob TRATT, 4.Gregory WUTHRICH, 5.Ivan FRANJIC, 7.Joel CHIANESE, 8.James MEREDITH, 9.Bruno FORNAROLI, 12.Kim SOO-BEOM, 13.Osama MALIK, 16.Tomislav MRCELA, 17.Diego CASTRO (c), 18.Nicholas D’AGOSTINO, 20.Jake BRIMMER, 21.Tarek ELRICH, 22.Vince LIA, 28.Gabriel POPOVIC, 29.Kristian POPOVIC, 33.Liam REDDY (gk), 88.Neil KILKENNY

**1-3 to be omitted**

Ins: 13.Osama MALIK (returns from injury), 17.Diego CASTRO (c) (promoted)

Outs: 19.Chris IKONOMIDIS (ACL - Season)

Unavailable: 6.Dino DJULBIC (ankle – indefinite), 19.Chris IKONOMIDIS (knee – season), 27.JUANDE (groin – 1 week)

Wellington Phoenix squad: 1.Stefan MARINOVIC (gk), 2.Liam McGING, 3.Luke DEVERE, 4.Te Atawhai HUDSON-WIHONGI, 5.Matti STEINMANN, 6.Tim PAYNE, 7. Reno PISCOPO, 8.Cameron DEVLIN, 9. David Ball, 10.Ulises DAVILA, 11.Jaushua SOTIRIO, 12.Brandon Wilson, 13.Liberato CACACE, 14.Alex RUFER, 17.Callan Elliot, 20.Oliver SAIL (gk), 21.Callum MCCOWATT, 27.Steven TAYLOR (c), 31.Ben WAINE, 32.Sam SUTTON, 88. Gary HOOPER

**2-4 to be omitted**

Ins: 2.Liam McGING (promoted), 5.Matti STEINMANN (Return from Suspension), 7. Reno PISCOPO (Return from International Duty)

Outs: 23.Walter SCOTT (Injury – Knee)

Unavailable: 16.Louis FENTON (Shoulder - Season)

#OneGlory