Smeltz returns from international duty and is ready to take on the Wanderers
Star striker Shane Smeltz has declared himself fit and raring to go ahead of Sunday-s home clash with Western Sydney Wanderers, but coach Ian Ferguson is yet to decide whether the free-scoring New Zealand international will start the game or again be used off the bench.
Following his substitute appearance for the All Whites during their midweek friendly with China in Shanghai, Smeltz only returned to Australia in the early hours of this morning, yet still managed to complete a light run at Glory-s training session later in the day.
And the 31-year-old is confident that he has made a full recovery from the hamstring tear that has restricted him to just one A-League appearance thus far this season.
“I-ve just got off the ‘plane,” he said, “so I-m a little bit fatigued from the flight, but the body-s feeling pretty good.
“I got 25 minutes off the bench (against China), so that-s two runs in three or four days and I-m feeling good and looking forward to the next game.
“I-ve been pulling up fine after games and not even thinking about it going out onto the field, so that-s great.”
Ferguson then added that Smeltz, along with Glory-s other midweek international representative, Michael Thwaite, would rejoin the main group for Saturday-s final training session.
“Shane and Michael have come back in today and they-ll do their own loosener to make sure they are ready for the training session tomorrow and they will both be in the squad,” he said.
“Rather than speculate about the team now, I-d rather keep it to myself and wait until I get the full squad in tomorrow.
“I-ll let the players know tomorrow in terms of which way we-re going to go.”
Smeltz-s uncanny ability to sniff out a goal could come in extremely handy for the men in purple given that Western Sydney currently boast the best away defensive record in the A-League and Ferguson hinted that Glory may mix up their tactical approach in the final third this weekend in a bid to break them down.
“We-ve watched the videos of their recent games,” he said, “and we-ve got a few little things up our sleeves that hopefully will cause them a few problems.
“I don-t want to go into detail, but we-ve been working on some things this week through the middle and the wider areas.
“It-s no secret that our game plan so far has been a lot about our full backs, but we-ve been working on something else this week that hopefully can unlock the best away defence in the A-League.
“Sometimes you work on these things and they come off and sometimes they don-t and you can either be left looking like a genius or with egg on your face.
“It-s very difficult to break down those two banks of four, but we-re the home team and we-ve got to try and take the game to them.”
Ferguson also admitted that his side will have to keep a close eye on Wanderers- Japanese marquee man Shinji Ono who is now starting to showcase the kind of form that earned him 56 caps for the Blue Samurai.
“Ono was a little bit quiet at the beginning, but that-s to be expected,” he said.
“He-s come to a new country, a new environment and a new team and I don-t think he was quite there fitness-wise to begin with.
“But I thought he was the best player on the park in their last game.
“He links up well, he-s got that x-factor and he-s a one or two-touch player.
“That-s the way top quality players play.
“We know what to expect in terms of the dangers he poses and hopefully we can cope with that.
“We-ll do the video analysis and give the boys all the info they need, but hopefully we-ll give Wanderers plenty to worry about as well.”
Ferguson also confirmed that Glory-s own Japanese import, Ryo Nagai, is unlikely to feature for either the first-team or the youth team this weekend after picking a knee injury in training.
PERTH GLORY v WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS
Sunday, November 18