Ferguson looks for more STRIKE POWER


Perth Glory coach Ian Ferguson has revealed that he has already sounded out several potential replacements for departing striker Billy Mehmet.

Perth Glory coach Ian Ferguson has revealed that he has already sounded out several potential replacements for departing striker Billy Mehmet.

The 29-year-old target-man will head to Thailand next week to pen a deal with Premier League side Bangkok Glass, freeing up an international spot on the club’s roster which Ferguson is keen to fill before the transfer window slams shut at the end of the month.

“We are always looking to bring in reinforcements,” he said.

“Obviously the January window is now open and there are one or two things that we are working on at the moment.

“Hopefully we can continue to pursue those and get somebody in.

“We have got one or two irons in the fire overseas and we’re waiting to see what happens with those, whether they are still progressing.

“We have put a couple of things to certain players and hopefully if it comes off, it’ll be great for Perth Glory.”

Ferguson went on to explain that a desire to play regular first-team football was the reason behind Mehmet’s move and insisted that he has enough options within his existing squad to cover the frontman’s absence in the short term.

“I can’t guarantee anyone a first team place,” he said, “and Billy is 29 and he wants to be playing regularly.

“It’s disappointing, but we don’t want unhappy players here either and if anyone wants to move on and head overseas, we won’t stand in their way.

“We’ve got good attacking cover.

“Travis Dodd can play up there, as can (Steven) McGarry and we’ve got (Chris) Harold and (Ryo) Nagai as well.
“Hopefully the players we bring in will do a good job for us.”

In terms of Saturday evening’s home clash with Sydney FC, meanwhile, Shane Smeltz is set to get the nod to start, with Ferguson claiming that the Kiwi international won’t be affected by the minor groin niggle that troubled him earlier in the week.

“We pulled him out of training yesterday just a precautionary measure,” he said, “because he was a little bit tight.

“But he’s back in full training today and at this moment, he’ll be fine for tomorrow. “The physios have checked him over and we’re happy with where he’s at.”

The Sky Blues will of course field a marquee attacker of their own in the form of Alessandro Del Piero and Ferguson believes that the key to keeping the Italian superstar quiet is to force him deep.

“We feel the further you can keep Del Piero away from the goal, the less effective he is,” he said.

“He’s very dangerous when he gets close to the box, he can create chances and put balls through for assists.

“We know what kind of a player he is, he’s a player that can change a game in a heartbeat and we’ve got to make sure that do the right thing and try and keep him quiet.”

And while Sydney’s defensive injury crisis has received plenty of media attention in recent days, Ferguson was quick to point out that Glory’s own backline options will also be severely limited this weekend, with Michael Thwaite injured and Bas van den Brink suspended.

“I’m not going to comment about other people’s defences,” he said.

“We’ve got two of our main centre-halves out and we’ll be looking to put another player in there who can provide the cover we require.

“Jacob Burns did it last year against Sydney and I thought he was like Beckenbauer at one point!

“But we’ve also got Dean Heffernan who played there when he was with Central Coast and Melbourne Heart, so we’ve got two players who can easily slip in there for a game or two and hopefully do us a good job.

“It’s going to be a tough game, but we’re looking forward to it.

“We’re back at home and looking for a full house and hopefully to pick up three points.”