STARS ruled out

Perth Glory coach Ian Ferguson remains confident that he has the quality within his squad to cover the absence of key duo Shane Smeltz and Bas van den Brink, both of whom have been ruled out of Sunday’s clash with Melbourne Heart.

Perth Glory coach Ian Ferguson remains confident that he has the quality within his squad to cover the absence of key duo Shane Smeltz and Bas van den Brink, both of whom have been ruled out of Sunday-s clash with Melbourne Heart.

A hamstring tear is set to sideline striker Smeltz out for at least a fortnight, while centre-back van den Brink is nursing a minor calf strain picked up in last Sunday-s defeat at Central Coast.

“We-re very disappointed that we won-t have Shane available to play,” said Ferguson.

“Smeltzy always has goals in him and you-re always going to miss that top quality of player who can change a game in a heartbeat.

“But we-ve got plenty of cover there in Billy Mehmet and Travis Dodd and Steven McGarry can play up there as well.

“With Bas, he unfortunately picked up a calf injury last week, he hasn-t recovered and we won-t take any chances with it.

“If it was a cup final, we could probably throw him in there, but we won-t do that this week.

“We-ve got a squad and we-ll use it to make sure that everybody gets some game time.

“Steve Pantelidis will come straight in.

“He-s the next choice centre-half and he-ll do a good job.”

Despite enjoying a thumping 5-0 victory over the Heart less than a month ago, Ferguson is expecting a very different contest when the two sides meet at nib Stadium.

The visitors shrugged off that heavy pre-season defeat to pick up four points from their opening two games of the A-League campaign and the Glory coach has been impressed by the level of improvement shown by John Aloisi-s side.

“I think that defeat was actually good for John,” he said, “because he-s had a lot of time, two or three weeks to try and get things right and they-ve done that.

“They turned in a great performance against Victory and in the first-half against Wellington, so they-ve obviously worked very hard on what they had to fix and they are looking very strong.

“We know it-s going to be a tough game.

“They are very mobile going forward, have great energy from their midfield and can cause a lot of problems, so we-ve got to be on our toes to make sure that we can stop that.

“But we-re looking more at what we can do, how we can cause problems for Heart.

“We know it-s going to be a difficult game, but we-ve worked on a few things this week from back to front and working through the channels and hopefully we can take those into the game with us.”

Steve Pantelidis, meanwhile, is understandably delighted at the prospect of making his first start of the season having taken a philosophical approach to his exclusion from the opening two games.

“Being honest, me, Bas (van den Brink) and (Michael) Thwaite are similar, so it-s a tough decision.” he said. “One of us has to miss out and it was me and that-s ok.

“But Bas has now pulled up with an injury, so I-ll get a chance this week and hopefully I can put in a good performance.”

Having featured prominently in the club-s highly-successful pre-season campaign, the former Melbourne Victory and Gold Coast United man feels that he is primed to make his mark on Sunday.

“I did the whole pre-season so I-m feeling really fit and looking forward to a big game against the Heart.” he said.

“John (Aloisi) has got them very well organised, so they are going to be tough to break down and they-ve got quick players out wide, plus big Macca (Dylan Macallister) up front who holds the ball up well, so it-s going to be a tough contest.

“But with the home crowd advantage, hopefully we can get the three points.”

**Perth Glory goalkeeper Neil Young has been placed on the long term injury list. Lewis Italiano, released from his contract with Victorian Premier League club Oakleigh, has been signed as cover and will wear number 30.

Sunday, October 21 Perth Glory v Melbourne Heart Venue: nib Stadium Kick-off: 2pm Referee: Matt Gillett

Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 1HD Radio broadcast: ABC Local radio WA, Grandstand Digital Perth and Melbourne

To purchase tickets visit www.aleague.com.au/tickets

Perth Glory Squad: 1.Danny Vukovic (gk), 4.Billy Mehmet, 5.Steve Pantelidis, 6.Nick Ward, 7.Jacob Burns (c), 8.Dean Heffernan, 10.Liam Miller, 11.Adrian Zahra, 12.Ryo Nagai, 13.Travis Dodd, 14.Steven McGarry, 15.Brandon O-Neill, 18.Jesse Makarounas, 19.Josh Risdon, 21.Scott Jamieson, 23.Michael Thwaite, 30 Lewis Italiano (gk) **three to be omitted**

Ins: 11.Adrian Zahra, 15.Bradon O-Neill, 17.Chris Harold, 18.Jesse Makarounas, 30.Lewis Italiano (gk), (all promoted).

Outs: 3.Bas van den Brink (calf injury)

Unavailable: 3.Bas van den Brink (Calf - 1 week), 9.Shane Smeltz (hamstring - 2 weeks), 16.Evan Berger (hamstring - 6 weeks), 22.Ndumba Makeche (Groin - 1 week)