Popovic backs 'fantastic' Castro to flourish no matter the role

Tony Popovic says he’s pleased with the contribution Diego Castro is making in Perth Glory’s title quest – whether it be as a starter or off the bench.

Spanish veteran Castro has been one of the first names on the Glory team sheet since his arrival in 2015, but has been used sparingly by Popovic this season due to injury niggles.

And while his absence may have been telling in the past, Castro’s reduced contribution has not hindered Glory’s impressive charge to the Hyundai A-League summit.

The 36-year-old will continue to be assessed with great care over a busy January schedule for the league leaders.

“At the moment he's being managed due to his loads and due to how much football he's missed and training he's missed,” Popovic told reporters on Thursday.

“If you have a look in the last seven days he made an amazing contribution in all three matches.

“Two as coming off the bench and one where he was outstanding against Sydney as a starter.

“He's a fantastic player.”

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Popovic also said he expects a fierce response from opponents Melbourne City in Saturday night’s Hyundai A-League clash.

A disappointing City fell 2-1 to Central Coast Mariners on Wednesday night, but the Glory boss anticipates Warren Joyce’s team – who are unbeaten in their last five matches at AAMI Park – to lift for Perth’s arrival.

“I think you always get a reaction from good teams and I believe they are a good team,” he said.

“Regardless of that result, we know what to expect. They’re very strong at home, they’ve dominated many games in Melbourne and we have to be prepared for a very tough match.”

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