High-flying Perth Glory will be full of confidence and boosted by the return of Diego Castro as they host the Central Coast Mariners in Perth on Sunday evening.
Castro, one of the competition's most exciting players and Perth's captain, finally returns from a hamstring injury and adds another layer of class to Perth's options in the final third.
The Spaniard has scored 33 goals in 70 Hyundai A-League matches and will help Tony Popovic’s Glory, who have started the season with three wins and one draw, form that has them one of the title favourites.
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They face a Mariners side who, after starting the campaign with successive draws, have slumped to 3-0 and 4-1 defeats to Adelaide United and Melbourne Victory respectively.
And life gets no easier for Mike Mulvey’s men in this tricky trip across the country.
In eight of the past nine meetings, this clash has been won by the home side, with the only exception coming when the Mariners sensationally fought back from 3-0 down to claim a point in a 3-3 draw at nib Stadium in October 2016.
The last away win in this fixture came in November 2014, when a Nebojsa Marinkovic strike gave Perth a 1-0 win in Gosford.
KEY OPTA STATS
- Central Coast Mariners have won three of their last five games against Perth Glory (L2), keeping a clean sheet in each of those victories.
- Perth are undefeated in their last seven home games against the Mariners (W6, D1), averaging three goals per game in that span.
- Perth Glory are undefeated in the first four rounds this season (W3, D1), the last time they went longer without defeat to start the season was a five-game run (W3, D2) in the 2010-11 campaign.
INS AND OUTS
Perth Glory squad: 1.Tando VELAPHI (gk), 2.Alex GRANT, 3.Jason DAVIDSON, 4.Shane LOWRY, 5.Ivan FRANJIC, 6.Dino DJULBIC, 7.Joel CHIANESE, 9.Andy KEOGH, 11.Brendon SANTALAB, 14.Chris HAROLD, 15.Brandon WILSON, 16.Tomislav MRCELA, 17.Diego CASTRO, 19.Chris IKONOMIDIS, 22.Fabio FERREIRA, 27.JUANDE, 33.Liam REDDY (gk), 88.Neil KILKENNY
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 11.Brendon SANTALAB (returns from injury), 16.Tomislav MRCELA (returns from suspension), 17.Diego CASTRO (returns from injury)
Outs: 25.Walter SCOTT
Unavailable: 23.Scott NEVILLE (ankle – 1-2 weeks)
Central Coast Mariners squad: 1.Ben KENNEDY (gk), 3.Jack CLISBY, 4.Jake McGING, 5.Antony GOLEC, 6.Tom HIARIEJ, 7.Andrew HOOLE, 8.Michael McGLINCHEY, 11.Connor PAIN, 12.Adam PEARCE (gk), 13.Aiden O’NEILL, 15.Kye ROWLES, 18.Matt MILLAR, 19.Matt SIMON (c), 20.Kalifa CISSE, 22.Jacob MELLING, 23.Mario SHABOW, 25.Jordan MURRAY, 44.Ross McCORMACK
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 4.Jake McGING (promoted), 6.Tom HIARIEJ (promoted), 19.Matt SIMON (return from injury),
Outs: 10.Tommy OAR (knee)
Unavailable: 2.Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS (ACL), 21.Corey GAMEIRO (calf)
HOW TO WATCH
Tune in on FOX SPORTS 505 from 7:00pm (AEDT) or watch through the MyFootball Live App as Round 5 draws to a close.
Be there as the Glory face off against the Mariners. Secure your seat here.