Glory Head Coach Richard Garcia believes that his players are relishing the prospect of playing three games in a week, starting with Sunday’s clash against Brisbane Roar (kick-off at 1.05pm WST).
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The squad have headed over to Tasmania for the games, which will all take place at Launceston’s UTAS Stadium, with Glory looking to get the ball rolling by avenging last month’s narrow defeat at the hands of the Queenslanders.
And Garcia is confident that his charges have what it takes to do exactly that.
“We’ve got three games in Tasmania which we’re trying to treat as if we’re playing at HBF Park in front of our own fans,” he said, “and we want to make sure that our “home” form is good.
“We’ve got a very strong mindset going into this next week.
“It’s going to be a big week and one that we need to get quite a lot of points out of.
“The boys are itching to play again.
“It’s been such a frustrating season with the stop-start nature of it and not being able to get any rhythm.
“So I think they’re all eager to play as many games as possible from here on out.
“They [Brisbane Roar] are a side that has a lot of energy… and are similar to ourselves in that they have a lot of young guys, guys who have come out of NPL, so it’s quite an evenly-matched match-up, but it’s a game that I feel is very winnable.”
Glory will head into the game sitting at the foot of the ISUZU UTE A-League table, but having played fewer games than any other club in the competition, Garcia is not unduly concerned by his side’s current position.
“As far as points are concerned, the table suggests that we’re sitting at the bottom, but it only takes a few wins and you pop right back up,” he said.
“It’s very easy to assess a team by the ladder, but Wellington were bottom a few weeks ago and now they’ve gone five unbeaten and they’re closer to the top.
“So that’s how close the league is.
“It’s a very, very tight league and at the moment the league means nothing, it’s about where end up at the end of it and for us, it’s about the process of getting better, of gelling and being more cohesive as a team.
“That’s how we’re keeping the guys focused.”
Garcia is also adamant that the team’s performances are continuing to improve as the season wears on.
“We’ve only played eight games and the majority of those have been away from home,” he said.
“I think last year we took ten points away from home, this year we’ve already got seven, so we’re well ahead of last year.
“There’s been a definite improvement in our performances as far as defensively is concerned.
“We’ve lost four games and they’ve all been 1-0 and were games that we could probably have got something out of, so the resilience in the group is growing and they’re heading in the right direction.
“We’re bringing through young players week-in, week-out, which is also a massive positive.
“To see that constant progression of young guys… is fantastic and they’re going to be the future of the club, so it’s a massive step in the right direction as far as that’s concerned.”
In terms of team news, meanwhile, the Head Coach reported that things are looking a lot more positive in the camp and confirmed that marquee man Daniel Sturridge will feature in the matchday squad.
“We’ve pretty much got everyone available, which is fantastic,” he said.
“There are still a few struggling with shortness of breath after COVID, but they are the guys that came out in that last group.
“They’re a week back into their training and a few of those guys might have to be played off the bench, but the rest are starting to find their legs again after a long break.
“Daniel has had a good week’s training and has been very impressive.
“He’s starting to look like his old self.
“I think his minutes off the bench will be limited, but at the same time, it’s rapidly getting closer to him having that start that we want him to have.
“I think he’s probably capable of around 45, but we don’t want to just throw him in at 45 straight away.
“Depending on how the game’s going, it’ll be one to dip his toe in again and get some work under his belt in a match situation.”
Roar will head to Tasmania keen to erase memories of a surprise 3-0 defeat at the hands of Wellington Phoenix last time out which was their sixth loss in 11 games.
Glory have won four of their last eight meetings with the men in orange and have not been beaten by them at home since April 2018.
The fact that we’ve got three games in a week after not playing for a while is going to be challenging, but we’ve got quite a few players over here now and quite a few of the younger crew as well and they’re going to help bolster the squad and help out if players do go down with injury.
The boys are itching to play again.
It’s been such a frustrating season with the stop-start nature of it and not being able to get rhythm.
So I think they’re all eager to play as many games as possible from here on out.
It’s very easy to assess a team by the ladder, but Wellington were bottom a few weeks ago and now they’ve gone five unbeaten and they’re closer to the top.
So that’s how close the league is.
We’ve got a lot of areas to improve on, but that’s how we keep the players focused.
I’m sure they’ll want to bounce back.
They’re a side that has a lot of energy… and are similar to ourselves in that they have a lot of young guys and guys who have come out of NPL, so it’s quite and evenly-matched match-up, but it’s a game that I feel is very winnable.