Perth Glory coach Ian Ferguson won’t underestimate the Central Coast Mariners when the two sides meet at Bluetongue Stadium on Monday.
Midfield duo Tomas Rogic and John Hutchinson and the league’s top-scorer, Daniel McBreen, will all miss the New Year’s Eve clash due to suspension in the wake of last week’s ill-tempered defeat at the hands of Sydney FC, but Ferguson is still keenly aware of the threat posed by the ladder leaders.
“The Mariners have a very good squad,” he said.
“And I don’t look too much at the personnel that are going to be missing because I know they’ll bring in decent players and still have the same structure and philosophy.
“They are very drilled in what they do and it’s going to be a very difficult game.
“We haven’t got a great record over there, but in our last couple of visits, I think we’ve done well.
“Last season we won there in a penalty shoot-out and even though we lost 1-0 to them earlier this season, I certainly thought we deserved to get something out of that game.
“They are a very good side and their confidence will be high, but we’re unbeaten in three now and we’re looking forward to it.
“I’m quietly confident about us getting a result.”
Glory will make the long trip east off the back of a 1-1 home draw with Western Sydney Wanderers, a game Ferguson felt should have yielded three points for the men in purple.
“I was disappointed that we didn’t get the win,” he said.
“I felt that we controlled the game for long periods, but we need to be a wee bit more penetrative than we’re being and stop launching the long balls from back to front. “That’s not the way I want us to play.
“I want us to play through the channels and the middle of the park and I want us to look for switches of play.”
One of Glory’s stand-out performers in that clash with the red and blacks was Ryo Nagai and Ferguson was delighted with the contribution made by the livewire Japanese midfielder on what was his starting debut for the club.
“I thought Ryo gave (Tarek) Elrich a bit of a game,” he said.
“Performance-wise, he did exactly what we wanted him to do which was good and I think the more game time he gets, the better player he’ll become for us.
“That said, it was Ryo’s first start and we need to be careful with him over the next couple of games in terms of whether we bring him off the bench or whether we start him, because this is what happened last time we had two games in quick succession and he ended up pulling his hamstring.”
The positive impact made by substitutes Nick Ward and Billy Mehmet on Thursday night, meanwhile, has given Ferguson further food for thought in terms of his selection options ahead of the visit to Gosford, as has the return to fitness of Travis Dodd who missed the Wanderers game due to a minor knee niggle.
And the Glory coach admitted that he is also keen to bolster his squad once the January transfer window swings open.
“We’re always looking at options we can bring in to freshen the place up,” he said.
“We’ve got one free spot at the moment where we could possibly do something and we are always looking to improve.”