Burns RETURNS from Back injury


Perth Glory skipper Jacob Burns has confirmed that he will be available for selection in Friday’s crunch clash with Newcastle Jets at Hunter Stadium.

Perth Glory skipper Jacob Burns has confirmed that he will be available for selection in Friday’s crunch clash with Newcastle Jets at Hunter Stadium.

The 34-year-old midfielder has missed the last six games due to a niggling back injury, but he looked to be back to his tenacious best in Tuesday’s training session at McGillivray Oval and is desperate to play his part in Glory’s late charge for the finals.

“I’m really happy to be back,” he said.

“It’s been a long time out for me and I felt good out there today.

“No-one likes to miss any football and I’ve missed a good few weeks with the back injury, so it’s great to be back out there and moving freely again.

“Three jabs later it’s finally come good and now I’m looking forward to getting some more training under my belt and seeing how things progress.”

With Travis Dodd, Dean Heffernan and Nick Ward also set to be available for the Jets clash, coach Alistair Edwards has plenty of selection options at his disposal and Burns is aware that he faces a battle to reclaim his starting spot.

“The manager has a good headache this week,” he said.

“The more fit players he has to pick from, the better the club is, so I’m well aware that I’ve got to be patient and it’s their call.

“But if I get the nod, I’ll be grabbing it with both hands, that’s for sure.”

And Burns is adamant that if Perth Glory can back up Saturday night’s thrilling win over Sydney by claiming another three points at Hunter Stadium, a top six finish will be very much in their sights.

“I think reaching the finals is a very real possibility,” he said, “especially after last weekend’s results which, bar Brisbane winning, really went our way.

“It’s an extremely important game against Newcastle and we’re not going over there expecting it to be easy.

“They’ve got a lot to play for as well and anyone outside the top four is really fighting for their position in the finals and will be right up until the end of the season.

“The feedback that we’ve got is that (Emile) Heskey will be out for the Jets and that’s a positive for us because he’s a big talent and he’s been fantastic for the A-League.

“If we can get a result in Newcastle, we’ve got two more home games against Wellington and Adelaide, as well as Victory away which will be a tough one.

“But if we can get three points from this one, we’ll be a real chance.”

Perth Glory assistant coach Gareth Naven, meanwhile, expressed his delight at Burns’ return to fitness, but wouldn-t be drawn on whether he will come straight back into the side on Friday.

“Jacob’s intensity in training and leadership on the field is certainly a massive asset for the club,” he said.

“He brings a great energy to the training sessions.

“Alistair (Edwards) and myself will look at the selection decisions and discuss them.

“We’ve got players at the moment who are performing and obviously he (Burns) probably realises that.

“But with his intensity in training, he’s definitely forced his way into the calculations.”

Steve Pantelidis is Glory’s only major injury doubt ahead of the Jets clash, although the club’s medical staff remain hopeful that the versatile defender will recover from a jarred Achilles in time to feature.