Match Preview: Garcia heartened by squad improvement

Glory Head Coach Richard Garcia believes that his side can continue their improvement in Sunday’s Round 3 showdown with Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park (kick-off at 3.45pm WST).

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Following an opening-round draw with Adelaide United, the men in purple were edged out by Western United last weekend, but Garcia felt that there were plenty of positives to take from that performance.

And he’s backing his charges to maintain that positive trajectory against a Victory side coached by his predecessor at Glory, Tony Popovic.

“It’s been a decent start to the road trip under difficult circumstances,” he said.

“The group has a great bond and has been having a good time together and that’s been pretty pleasing.

“The squad is a bit thin, but I thought the guys coped very well against Western United, did a great job and grew from the first game.

“They are definitely growing in stature and we’re continually seeing improvement as individuals and as a group.”

In addition to Popovic in the dugout, there could be as many as five former Glory players in the Victory squad on Sunday, but Garcia does not believe that the familiarity of the personnel will have a significant impact on the nature or outcome of the contest.

“They know us as well as we know them and I don’t think it gives you an advantage,” he said.

“Maybe for the players there is a mental advantage as far as what to expect from those [opposition] players, but it’s still going to be a very tough game.

“They [Victory] look good because they’ve got results, but they’re still a team that is new to each other as well, so we’re definitely in the right mindset to be able to go there and get three points.”

In terms of squad news, meanwhile, Garcia confirmed that Daniel Sturridge will not feature and that the striker’s former Liverpool teammate, Brad Jones, could also miss out due to a calf injury.

“We want everyone to see the best of Daniel Sturridge and not see Daniel Sturridge for a week and then not see him for another month,” he said.

“We’ve got to make sure we do the right thing by Daniel and make sure we get him fit.

“There’s been a lot made of it and I don’t see why.

“It’s the normality of an athlete trying to get fit and that’s where we sit with it.

“We’re confident that he’s doing well in the program so far and heading in the right direction.

“Brad picked up a little knock and is not travelling too well, but other than that, we’re all pretty good.

“We’ll give him every possible opportunity [to prove his fitness], but at the moment he’s touch and go.”

To cover the potential absence of Jones, Glory have signed 23-year-old Sydney Olympic goalkeeper Nicholas Sorras on an injury-replacement contract.

The men in purple have won two of their last three meetings with the navy-and-whites at AAMI Park, while in their two clashes last season, the sides shared a victory apiece.

The hosts come into the game having taken six points from their opening two games of the current campaign against Western United and Brisbane Roar.

Extended Perth Glory Squad: 1.Brad JONES (GK), 2.Aaron CALVER, 4.Luke BODNAR, 5.Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS, 7.Adrian SARDINERO, 8.Kosuke OTA, 9.Bruno FORNAROLI, 12.Cameron COOK (GK), 14.Jack CLISBY, 18.Daniel STYNES, 21.Antonee BURKE-GILROY, 22.Josh RAWLINS, 24.Pacifique NIYONGABIRE, 26.Giordano COLLI, 29.Darryl LACHMAN, 30.Nicholas SORRAS (GK), 32.Aidan COYNE, 38.Ciaran BRAMWELL, 41.Chris DONNELL