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Apr 22, 2022   |  5:28PM AET

Match Preview – Ruben’s focus remains unchanged ahead of Reds trip

Match Preview – Ruben’s focus remains unchanged ahead of Reds trip

The development of the club’s exciting crop of young players will remain the focus for Glory Head Coach Ruben Zadkovich in Sunday’s ISUZU UTE A-League clash with Adelaide United at Cooper’s Stadium.

View today’s media conference in full HERE.

The Glory squad have finally enjoyed some long-overdue time on the training ground this week following a gruelling run of three away games in the space of just seven days.

That has allowed Zadkovich to continue his efforts to mould its younger members who have made up the vast majority of the team in recent weeks, but he is still keenly aware of the size of the challenge which awaits them this weekend.

“It’s been a welcome relief to actually get on the training pitch and work on some things,” he said.

“We’ll probably still have the youngest team in A-League history and a team that is down on confidence.

“And they’re down on confidence because of the situation and the circumstances they’re having to navigate through, so it’s been nice to work on some things this week.

“But to put it in perspective, Adelaide haven’t played a game for 12 or 13 days, so while we get three training sessions on the pitch this week, they’ll have had seven, eight or nine and we’re talking about a team that has been together a long time and aren’t struggling as much as we are at the moment.

“So we’ve still got a massive task on our hands to go over there this week and get a result, but that’s exactly what we’re going to try and do.

“It’s the same process for me.

“The learning and the development of those younger players is first and foremost for me at the moment.

“That’s where the future of the club lies and that’s the club’s directive; to stay focused on those young guys.

“And so we’ll be looking for an improved performance.

“We’ve worked hard this week and we’ll go out there again and try and get a result with what we’ve got.”

Zadkovich went on to provide a full squad update which began with confirmation that Nick Fitzgerald will make a welcome return to action after being sidelined by a hamstring strain.

“We have Fitzy back this weekend and he’s a big inclusion,” he said.

“He’s a guy who gives everything of himself.

“He’s been through a lot himself, he’s been out of the game for a long period and thrown back in at the deep end.

“He’s acquitted himself really well with the group and because of his experience and quality, he’ll definitely help.”

He went on to discuss Daniel Sturridge, Osama Malik, Darko Stanojevic and Jonathan Aspropotamitis.

“I don’t think [Daniel] will get on the park this weekend, but he’s a big chance to start next weekend,” he said.

“He’s been training really well, he’s put in a lot of hard yards while we’ve been away, trying to get himself back to the level where he can go out there and perform and it looks as if he’s got himself in that position again.

“So, touch wood, if he has another strong week training next week, he’ll put himself in a position where he can start next week in front of our home fans.

“Malik’s not travelling this week.

“There are some opportunities that have come up for him, so we’ll have to address that when it comes.

“He’s off-contract next year and something has come up that may potentially be good for him and his family, so that may be something that we look at.

“I can’t say too much at the moment, because it’s still up in the air.

“Darko wasn’t signed by me at this club and he hasn’t played a competitive game for as long as he’s been here, plus whatever time it was before that that he hadn’t played.

“So I’ve got to make decisions based on what I think is best for the squad.

“He hasn’t done enough to be selected; it’s that simple.

“Aspro was playing when I first came into the job.

“He’s a top professional and a top-class guy who always gives everything of himself.

“There are some things that I’m working with him on on an individual performance issue and his attitude has been fantastic.

“We’re going through that process and showing him some things that we want moving forward.”

Zadkovich also discussed his own position and approach going forward.

“I don’t think, given the circumstances, that results are the focus of what I’m being judged on,” he said.

“I’m being judged on how I handle the directive from the club, especially those younger players, how those individuals either succeed or struggle, analysing that and reviewing that and making sure it’s direction moving forward.

“That’s probably more what I’m getting judged on than I am results, because obviously the circumstances are extremely trying at the moment.

“Everything I’m doing is for the betterment of the club.

“This is an extremely difficult time for everyone involved and my personal ambitions are parked at the moment.

“We’ve got to get through to the end of the season, stay really clear on what the long-term vision is for the club and dig ourselves out of this mess.

“That’s the process that I’m sticking to.”

Glory will be up against a Reds side currently sitting fourth in the table after winning their last two games against finals rivals Macarthur FC and Sydney FC.

Skipper Craig Goodwin has led from the front for Carl Veart’s men this term, grabbing nine goals and five assists, while Japanese striker Hiroshi Ibusuki has also impressed, scoring five times.

The Reds won 2-1 at HBF Park in the most recent meeting between the two sides in early March, but Glory have lost just once in their last four trips to Coopers Stadium and claimed all three points in last season’s corresponding fixture courtesy of a late strike from Daniel Stynes.

#OneGlory