Preview: Newcastle Jets v Perth Glory

The Glory have settled well under Edwards, who wants his side retaining possession and building up play, and should be too good for the Jets.

Date: Friday, March 8, 2013 Kick-off: 7.30pm AEDT Venue: Hunter Stadium, Newcastle

Head-to-head: Played: 23 - Wins: Newcastle 6, Perth 12, Draws: 5

Previous encounter: Perth 3-0 Newcastle, December 14, 2012

Form: Past five matches: Newcastle: LWDWL Perth: WLWLL

The Game Both Newcastle and Perth maintain hopes of making the top six and that makes this encounter a crucial one. The Jets have played a game more than most of their nearest rivals and sit fifth, three points clear of the seventh-placed Melbourne Heart.

Under Alistair Edwards, the Glory have picked up six of a possible nine points to keep their finals chances alive. A 2-1 win over Sydney last time out put them within three points of sixth spot.

In good news for the Glory, captain Jacob Burns is set to return from a back injury, while Travis Dodd, Dean Heffernan and Nick Ward are also likely to be available after missing the win over the Sky Blues. Steve Pantelidis (Achilles) is expected to recover in time for the clash.

The Jets rested several players in their 5-0 loss to the Melbourne Victory on Sunday but Michael Bridges is set to return. Emile Heskey (calf) has been ruled out, while Connor Chapman will come in for the suspended Taylor Regan. Zenon Caravella (hamstring) and Sam Gallaway (knee) remain sidelined.

The Big Issue Newcastle: Having played their Round 26 match against the Phoenix early due to the New Zealand side's international commitments, the Jets must make the most of their two remaining home games, beginning with the Glory clash.

A trip to Adelaide follows before they welcome Western Sydney to Hunter Stadium. Two home wins should be enough to see them seal a top-six place.

Perth: The Glory's away record has been among the worst in the league this season but this shapes as a huge chance for them to improve on that. They have recorded just one win in 11 trips this campaign, scoring five goals.

Their last away game - a 1-0 loss to the Wanderers - was promising and something similar could see them collect what would be a huge three points.

The Gamebreaker Shane Smeltz: It has been far from the New Zealand international's best campaign, but his form in recent outings suggests he could cause teams problems late in the season.

Smeltz has five goals in his past seven games, lifting his tally to seven in 2012/13. With his confidence rising, if he gets the service from the likes of Liam Miller, Matias Cordoba and Ryo Nagai, he could be the difference.

Prediction: Newcastle 1-2 Perth The Glory have settled well under Edwards, who wants his side retaining possession and building up play, and should be too good for the Jets. Edwards' men have adapted quickly and results have shown later in the campaign.

Without Heskey, the Jets are a different team and struggled in attack - as well as all other areas - against the Victory. Gary van Egmond said his players failed to follow instructions as they were punished on the counter-attack on several occasions at AAMI Park.

Perth are less clinical on the break, but with confidence high, they should take their chance to record a much-needed away win.