Melbourne Heart coach John Aloisi knows the importance of his side’s clash with Perth Glory at AAMI Park on Saturday.
Heart enter the match outside the top six on goal difference, but a win against Ian Ferguson’s team should see them finish the round in prime position to reach the finals for a second consecutive season.
The past three games between these two sides have been won by the home side and Aloisi has stressed the importance of continuing that streak on Saturday.
“It is a big game for us,” Aloisi said.
“I wouldn’t say it is a crunch weekend because it is so close around there, but we feel we need to win at home.
“We feel that we need to be beating teams around us and Perth Glory are one of those teams.
“It is an exciting game for us and we hope to have a big crowd support us and help us across the line.”
Aloisi’s side will have to tackle Glory without the services of Josip Tadic, after their leading goal scorer this season was struck down with a toe injury during Heart’s 2-1 loss to Melbourne Victory last round.
Experienced duo Simon Colosimo (calf) and Fred (quad) are also missing, but veteran defender Jamie Coyne comes straight into the squad and is likely to make his Heart debut.
“We lost Josip Tadic, but we have been dealing with all that for most of the season,” Aloisi said of Heart’s injury concerns.
“We have lost important players at crucial times, but we have got players coming back in and we have signed Jamie Coyne as everyone knows.
“We still believe that our squad is good enough to put anyone out and get a result.”
Glory have lost their past four matches to slump to the bottom of the A-League table, but Aloisi said he won’t be taking them lightly.
“They have got a good team all around,” he said.
“They have got a couple of good young boys that have just come in that are doing well.”
And Aloisi said his defence must keep a close eye on Shane Smeltz, with the Kiwi returning to Glory’s squad this week following a hip injury.
“The danger player will always be someone like Shane Smeltz,” Aloisi said.
“He is a good striker, even when he is not even in great form and where the goal is he is sniffing.”