Perth Glory striker Shane Smeltz is in doubt to start against Western Sydney Wanderers in the two sides’ A-League clash on Sunday.
Glory coach Ian Ferguson refused to confirm if Smeltz would return to the starting XI, with the star front man appearing as a substitute for his native New Zealand in a friendly with China in mid-week in his comeback from a hamstring tear.
And both Smeltz and Glory’s other recent international representative Michael Thwaite are set to return to full training on Saturday, in the hope to make the final cut for the visit of Wanderers.
“Shane and Michael have come back in today (Friday),” Ferguson said.
“And they’ll do their own loosener (session) to make sure they are ready for the training session tomorrow and they will both be in the squad.
“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.”
On the subject of how he intends to break down a Wanderers rearguard that has conceded just one goal on the road all season, however, the Glory coach was a little more forthcoming.
“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, both through the middle and in the wider areas.
“It’s no secret that our gameplan 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 acknowledged the threat posed by the Wanderers in the front third, singling out marquee midfielder Shinji Ono as the key man to be stopped.
“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.”