Head Coach Ruben Zadkovich believes that his Glory squad have plenty to motivate them heading into Friday’s eagerly-anticipated return to HBF Park.
The men in purple will be out to snap a six-match winless run by downing high-flying Western Sydney Wanderers, a result which would move them to within four points of the top six.
And Zadkovich is confident that they will need no extra firing up as the club prepares to take to the field at its traditional home for the first time this season.
“We need to improve, we’re looking for an improved performance and we really feel like Wanderers is at home is a great opportunity for us to bounce back,” he said.
“Everything’s still to play for, but you can’t hide from from the results.
“The results are how they are and they’re not at the level that we’d like.
“It can be a frustrating thing and it can also be a very disappointing thing.
“There’s no worse feeling than travelling away, being in front twice, playing good football to get in that position and then to give it away softly, throw everything at them late, hit the post and not take the chances.
“They’re very tight losses and they’re very disappointing and so the morale can can quickly turn, but with this group, we’ve got a great belief.
“I’ve said that before.
“We were in a position where we were down the bottom of the ladder early on in the year and we fought our way out of it and worked our way out of it and showed everyone just how good we can be.
“And whilst the results haven’t gone our way in the last few weeks, there’s been some real positives in the performances.”
Zadkovich went on to confirm that the playing group are relishing the prospect of taking to the stage at HBF Park.
“The playing surface there is obviously very quick and very different to Macedonia Park,” he said.
“I played there myself and experienced a lot of games there in a season where we were winning and were top of the league for long periods and the crowd really got behind us.
“I keep saying that we’ve got really loyal Members and fans.
“They made Macedonia Park a great atmosphere as well, which has been good and we’ve enjoyed that.
“Now we’re looking forward to making HBF our new home.
“For some of the players, it’ll be something fresh and something they have to settle into, but we’re excited for it.”
In terms of early squad news, skipper Mustafa Amini will miss the game through suspension, but the Head Coach confirmed that Darry Lachman will return to the selection mix having recovered from his head injury and he also provided an update on Salim Khelifi.
“Darryl’s looks have improved with that scar on his forehead and he still has a smile on his face,” he said.
“He was out there today heading balls and he’s had his stitches out now and has recovered quite well.
“We’re happy to have him back as he’s a big player and a big character for us and he has an infectious personality around the group.
“It’s great to see him back on the training pitch and he’ll play a part for sure.
“Salim had surgery on Tuesday and got through that really well which is positive news.
“From all accounts the surgery went well and that will give him some clarity with that foot injury as it’s been something of an ongoing issue… and it got to the point where the pain from it was almost too much for him to handle.
“He’s got a massive heart for a little man and he’ll be sorely missed during the end of this season, but we’re also taking a long-term view… our best bet with him is to get him fully fit and that won’t be until pre-season.”
While acknowledging that Marko Rudan’s second-placed Wanderers will provide a major test on Friday, Zadkovich believes his side have shown that they have what it takes to force their way back into the winners’ circle.
“Let’s be honest, they [Western Sydney] are a superstar team,” he said.
“They’ve got a lot of quality and are in form as well, so we expect a very difficult challenge, but we played them away and had a very narrow 1-0 loss and then played them at home and had a very narrow 1-0 win, so we can certainly be competitive with the top teams; we’ve shown that.
“We know we can match it with any team on our day and the margins are very small for us at the moment.”
Wanderers will head across the country having lost just one of their last eight games, a run which has seen them emerge as Melbourne City’s most serious rivals for the Premiership title.
Brandon Borrello has led the way by bagging a season-best eight goals and they have also been bolstered by the mid-season arrival of former Manchester United and Southampton midfielder, Morgan Schneiderlin.
The last seven A-League meetings between the two sides have yielded an even split of three wins apiece, plus one draw, but the red-and-blacks have only won on two of their 14 overall A-League trips to WA.
ISUZU UTE A-League 2022/23 Season Round 20
Perth Glory v Western Sydney Wanderers
Friday 10 March 2023
Kick-off: 7pm WSW
Perth Glory squad: 2.John KOUTROUMBIS, 4.Luke BODNAR, 5.Mark BEEVERS (c), 6.Aaron MCENEFF, 7.Ryan WILLIAMS, 13.Cameron COOK (gk),14.Jack CLISBY, 15.Jordan ELSEY, 16.Keegan JELACIC, 18.David WILLIAMS, 19.Zach DUNCAN, 20.Giordano COLLI, 21.Antonee BURKE-GILROY, 22.Adam TAGGART, 23.Mitch OXBORROW, 28.Trent OSTLER, 29.Darryl LACHMAN, 30.Pierce CLARK (gk), 37.Jacob MUIR, 43.Adam ZIMARINO
Ins: 7.Ryan WILLIAMS, 23.Mitch OXBORROW, 28.Trent OSTLER, 29.Darryl LACHMAN
Outs: 8.Mustafa AMINI, 10.Salim KHELIFI
Unavailable: 1.Brad JONES (gk) (injured), 8.Mustafa AMINI (suspended), 10.Salim KHELIFI (injured), 24.Adrian SARDINERO (injured), 36.Joseph FORDE (international duty)
Western Sydney Wanderers squad: 1.Daniel MARGUSH (GK), 3.Gabriel CLEUR, 4.Morgan SCHNEIDERLIN, 5.Tomi MRCELA, 8.Oliver BOZANIC, 9.Kusini YENGI, 10.Milos NINKOVIC, 11.Amor LAYOUNI, 14.Nicolas MILANOVIC, 16.Tom BEADLING, 17.Romain AMALFITANO, 19.Daniel WILMERING, 20.Lawrence THOMAS (GK), 21.Jarrod CARLUCCIO, 23.Yeni NGBAKOTO, 26.Brandon BORRELLO, 28.Calem NIEUWENHOF, 32.Nathanael BLAIR, 33.Alexander BONETIG, 35.Zac SAPSFORD.
Ins: 19.Daniel WILMERING, 32.Nathaneal BLAIR (promoted), 33.Alex BONETIG (promoted), 35.Zac SAPSFORD (promoted)
Outs: 2.Gabriel CLEUR (suspended – one week), 6.Marcelo (suspended – one week)
Unavailable: 30. Jack WARSHAWSKY (national team duty), 31.Aidan SIMMONS (national team duty) 36.Alessandro LOPANE (national team duty), 37.Alex BADOLATO (national team duty)