It’s heating up in the race for the Hyundai A-League Finals Series, with all five matches this weekend to have some bearing on the make-up of the top six.
It all starts with a cracker on Friday night as Newcastle Jets look to keep the pressure on league-leaders Sydney FC when they take on Adelaide United.
There’s huge clashes in Gosford and Melbourne on Saturday, while Sunday will see both Brisbane Roar and Perth Glory look to continue their push to squeeze into the six.
Here’s five key ins ahead of Round 24.
Vince Lia (Adelaide United)
A knee injury has meant Lia has missed the majority of the campaign for the Reds but he returns just at the right time for the club’s push to consolidate their top six spot.
The 32-year-old midfielder – who scored a stunning brace against Melbourne Victory earlier in the season – will bring experience and a hard-edge to Adelaide’s midfield against the Jets on Friday night.
Oriol Riera (Western Sydney Wanderers)
With the Wanderers hanging on to their top six spot by a thread, Riera’s return for the tough trip to play and equally desperate Melbourne City is a huge boost for the Wanderers.
The Spanish striker has 12 goals for the campaign and if he’s on his game, Western Sydney have the firepower to compound the woes for City, who are winless in their last four games.
Diego Castro (Perth Glory)
In the west and there’s another special Spaniard set to return, with Castro set to be unleashed on Melbourne Victory by Glory boss Kenny Lowe.
Glory have struggled to put teams away in Castro’s absence over the last few weeks and with a four-point gap to sixth spot, they’ll need all of his goals and creative flair to topple an in-form Victory.
Andrew Durante (Wellington Phoenix)
Phoenix’s side is somewhat depleted for the clash with Roar, with five players away on international duty, while defender Marco Rossi is injured.
So the return of the Hyundai A-League’s most capped player will add some experience and steel to their defence, with interim boss Chris Greenacre expected to give a host of youngsters a shot at Westpac.
Luke Wilkshire (Sydney FC)
With Sydney FC looking to snap a four-game winless streak in all competitions, Wilkshire is back to bolster a Sky Blues defence that has looked a little shaky in recent games.
And with Michael Zullo still unavailable through injury, the ex-Caltex Socceroo could slot in at left-back for the trip to Gosford to play the Mariners.