Perth Glory coach Alistair Edwards has praised his side’s self-belief ahead of Friday night’s crunch away clash with Newcastle Jets.

Perth Glory coach Alistair Edwards has praised his side’s self-belief ahead of Friday night’s crunch away clash with Newcastle Jets.

Three points at Hunter Stadium would keep the men in purple right in the hunt for a finals berth and Edwards feels that his improving charges are a genuine top six chance.

“The finals race is really exciting,” he said, “because every team still has a mathematical chance of going through.

“When (assistant coach) Gareth Naven and myself came in, we were rock-bottom and no-one was giving us a chance, but we’ve had a couple of decent results.

“The performances are getting better and better each week and that’s the really pleasing part of it.

“The boys are doing extremely well and they have a genuine belief that we have a big shot of making finals football.

“We really want to play in the finals.

“We’ve talked about coming here and starting a process and having a long-term vision and so on, but we’ve got to balance that with week-to-week games.

“We beat the top team in Central Coast, had a narrow loss against Western Sydney and then played the glamour club in Sydney and beat them and there was a really exciting buzz around the stadium.”

Edwards also spoke of his delight at Jacob Burns’ return to full fitness following six weeks out with a back injury, but wouldn’t be drawn on whether the club skipper, or fellow-returnees Travis Dodd and Dean Heffernan, would be named in the starting eleven to face the Jets.

“It’s good to have Burns back,” he said, “but no-one in our squad is an automatic choice.

“We’ve now got a squad of 26 players and last week we were missing three very influential players, but the guys who came in did exceptionally well and having done exceptionally well, they’ll start again this week.

“The challenge now is who is going to come in on the bench.

“We’ve discussed it as a group and we’re going to make sure we have the best available players playing every week bearing in mind that there are some players who are good at playing home games and others that are more suited to the away game environment.”

On a personal note, meanwhile, Edwards is looking forward to locking horns with opposite number Gary van Egmond who will be demanding a major improvement from his side following last week’s 5-0 thumping at the hands of Melbourne Victory.

“Gary and I know each other very well from our time with the national teams,” he said.

“He’s a good guy and we’ve had a couple of discussions this week about pleasantries.

“They (Newcastle) are looking to make the finals as well and we’re really looking forward to the game.

“We’re going to give it our best shot.”

Perth Glory defender Steve Pantelidis has been ruled of the game with a bruised heel while Jets’ marquee man Emile Heskey will also miss the clash because of a calf problem.

Friday, March 08
Venue: Hunter Stadium
Kick-off: 4.30PM Perth time
Referee: Adam Kersey

Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 1HD and ABC radio Grandstand Digital and online

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

Newcastle Jets Squad:1. Ben Kennedy (gk), 2. Scott Neville, 5. Dominik Ritter, 7. James Brown, 8. Ruben Zadkovich, 10. Bernardo Ribeiro, 11. Connor Chapman, 12. Josh Brillante, 15. Craig Goodwin, 17. James Virgili, 18. Jacob Pepper, 19. Michael Bridges, 20. Mark Birighitti (gk), 21. Marko Jesic, 22. Adam Taggart, 25. Mitch Cooper, 26. Andrew Hoole (Four to be omitted)

Ins:James Brown and James Virgili (returning from illness), Michael Bridges (returning from being rested)

Outs: Zenon Caravella (hamstring), Emile Heskey (calf), Sam Gallaway (knee), Taylor Regan (suspended)

Unavailable:Ben Kantarovski (knee)

Perth Glory Squad:1.Danny Vukovic (gk), 2.Jack Clisby, 5.Steve Pantelidis, 8.Dean Heffernan, 9.Shane Smeltz, 10.Liam Miller, 12.Ryo Nagai, 13.Travis Dodd, 14.Steven McGarry, 17.Chris Harold, 18.Matias Cordoba, 19.Josh Risdon, 21.Scott Jamison, 23.Michael Thwaite, 30 Lewis Italiano (gk)

Ins:7. Jacob Burns (returns from injury), 8.Dean Heffernan, 13.Travis Dodd (returns from injury)

Outs: 5.Steve Pantelidis (bruised heel), 15.Brandon O-Neill, 28.Daniel De Silva
Unavailable:5.Steve Pantelidis (bruised heel)