Match Preview - Popovic confident ahead of Mariners clash

Glory Head Coach Tony Popovic heaped praise on his playing group ahead of the Round 10 New Year's Eve clash against Central Coast in Gosford. 

Popovic was quick to highlight his side's superb start to the season as they sit top of the Hyundai A-League ladder despite last week's first defeat of the season at the hands of Sydney FC.

The away trip provides another fresh challenge for the group following as the side enters an extremely busy period of the season, but it's one the playing group are certainly prepared for.

"We've had a fantastic run, it's been a great first third of the season. The players deserve a lot of credit for the consistency they've shown," Popovic said.

"They've now had a break, they've recharged the batteries and we approach nine games in a short space of time, so it's a real test, a big challenge, but we're really looking forward to that."

When asked about the impact of Chris Ikonomidis' absence due to Socceroos selection for the Asian Cup, Popovic was adamant the squad has ample depth, as he revealed Diego Castro will be making his return this week following a hamstring injury.

"[Ikonomidis is] a fantastic young talent, but we've got other players that can step in and bring their own attributes and strengths to the team," he said.

"We've had a lot of players unavailable in the first nine games of the season and players have stepped in and done a wonderful job, so I'm sure the players that will come in for Chris will do the same."

"[Castro] is our captain, he's a fantastic footballer. We're looking forward to seeing his qualities out on the pitch."

In team news, Glory are boosted by the return of Matthew Spiranovic, Alex Grant and skipper Castro, as Fabio Ferreira is also back in the squad. Meanwhile, Shane Lowry will miss the match-up due to suspension and Ikonomidis is of course away on international duty with the Socceroos AFC Asian Cup campaign kicking-off in January.

Monday night's fixture will also mark Dino Djulbic's 100th A-League appearance for Perth in what is a fantastic occasion for the Glory stalwart who debuted back in 2007.

Match Details

Central Coast Mariners v Perth Glory

Central Coast Stadium, Gosford

Kick-Off: 4PM (AWST) (7:00PM Local)

Referee: Kurt Ams

Assistant Referee 1: Ryan Gallagher

Assistant Referee 2: Scott Edeling

Fourth Official: Jarred Gillett

VAR: Kris Griffiths-Jones

Join the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #CCMvPER

Perth Glory squad: 1.Tando VELAPHI (gk), 2. Alex GRANT, 3.Jason DAVIDSON, 5.Ivan FRANJIC, 6.Dino DJULBIC, 7.Joel CHIANESE, 9.Andy KEOGH, 11.Brendon SANTALAB, 13.Matthew SPIRANOVIC, 15.Brandon WILSON, 16.Tomislav MRCELA, 17.Diego CASTRO, 20.Jake BRIMMER, 22.Fabio FERREIRA, 23.Scott NEVILLE, 27.JUANDE, 33.Liam REDDY (gk), 88.Neil KILKENNY. **two to be omitted**

Ins: 13.Matthew SPIRANOVIC (returns from injury), 17.Diego CASTRO (returns from injury), 2. Alex Grant (returns from injury), 22.Fabio FERREIRA (promoted)
Outs: 4.Shane LOWRY (suspended) Chris IKONOMIDIS (International Duty)
Unavailable: Nil

Central Coast Mariners squad: Central Coast Mariners squad: 3.Jack CLISBY, 4.Jake McGING, 5.Antony GOLEC, 7.Andrew HOOLE, 8.Michael McGLINCHEY, 10.Tommy OAR, 11.Connor PAIN, 12.Adam PEARCE (gk), 13.Aiden O’NEILL, 15.Kye ROWLES, 16.Josh MACDONALD,18.Matt MILLAR, 19.Matt SIMON (c), 20.Kalifa CISSE, 22.Jacob MELLING, 23.Mario SHABOW, 24.Joe GAUCI, 25.Jordan MURRAY.  **two to be omitted**

Ins: 10.Tommy OAR (return from injury), 20.Kalifa CISSE (promoted)
Outs: Nil
Unavailable: 21.Corey GAMEIRO (calf), 44.Ross McCORMACK (knee), 1.Ben KENNEDY (leg injury) & 6.Tom HIARIEJ (calf injury)

 #OneGlory