Edwards: Pressure off Glory squad

Perth Glory coach Alistair Edwards has claimed that his decision to pen a three-year deal at the club will help his players relax and play with greater freedom.

Perth Glory coach Alistair Edwards has claimed that his decision to pen a three-year deal at the club will help his players relax and play with greater freedom during Saturday's must-win clash with Melbourne Victory.

Having resolved his own personal future and established a greater level of stability at nib Stadium in the process, Edwards believes that the men in purple can now focus solely upon keeping their finals hopes alive by securing a third away win of the season at AAMI Park.

"It's good for the players to know who the coach is going to be moving forward and I think you'll see us playing a lot freer as a result," Edwards said.

"A lot of players really wanted to know what was happening in terms of the direction of the club and with that put to bed now.

"It just means that the guys can play with less anxiety and the focus can come off me a bit.

"I want to get the focus back onto the players because they are the ones who the fans want to see and they are the ones that win games or don't win games at the end of the day."

Edwards feels that his charges will also benefit from being unfancied outsiders this weekend, having failed to live up to the red-hot favourites tag they carried into last Sunday's home meeting with Wellington.

"I thought they (the players) were a bit flat last week against Phoenix," he said.

"Maybe they didn't handle being expected to win too well.

"This week, we're expected to lose and we've been underdogs quite a bit since I've been at the club, so maybe that tag fits us at this present moment.

"We've gone back to no-one expecting us to make the finals, so if the boys go out there and concentrate on just performing and not the result, I think you'll see the performance improve."

Meanwhile, in team news the Glory will be without three key men with Michael Thwaite and Shane Smeltz away on international duty while skipper Jacob Burns is suspended.

But Edwards believes that he still has enough quality within his squad to overcome a Victory side that will be similarly weakened by the absence of Mark Milligan, Archie Thompson and Marco Rojas.

"We've got to make a few changes but Victory are in exactly the same situation," the Glory boss said.

"It's going to be a very difficult game as usual, but we're going there to try and get three points.

"We've got a squad of 23 with plenty of experience and some good players to come in. And the best thing about this squad is that we've got some really versatile players.

"Up front, we've got Travis Dodd, Chris Harold and Ryo Nagai who can all play there and provide us with good options.

"Not having Shane there, it adds a different dimension to the way we can play with a bit more mobility in those central areas and so we are looking for those three to run amok in Melbourne.

"And (Steve) Pantelidis will come back in at the back as he's trained very well this week."