Smeltz returns to fray

Perth Glory are hopeful marquee striker Shane Smeltz will make his long-awaited return from an ankle injury for Sunday's vital Hyundai A-League match against Central Coast.

Perth Glory are hopeful marquee striker Shane Smeltz will make his long-awaited return from an ankle injury for Sunday's vital Hyundai A-League match against Central Coast.

But the news isn't so good for creative midfielder Liam Miller, whose lingering hamstring issue has ruled him out for the third straight match.

New Zealand international Smeltz hasn't played since Perth's 2-1 loss to Sydney on February 11 with an ankle issue which was originally expected to sideline him for just one game.

But coach Ian Ferguson said he was confident Smeltz would be back to lead the line in the fourth-placed Glory's battle with the league leading Mariners at nib Stadium.

"Good, very good," Ferguson said when asked the likelihood of Smeltz being fit to face Central Coast.

"He trained early in the week and had a day off and he'll join full training [Friday]."

Ferguson was reluctant to put a timeline on Miller's return though, as his hamstring problem has also lingered for much longer than first anticipated.

"We keep saying he's going to be ready for next week and then, all of a sudden, something happens again that sets him back a little bit," he said.

"Every time he does something or picks the pace up he feels twinges. Rather than try to go through that we've stopped him."

"It's a bit frustrating but we've just got to get on with it ... we've got to make sure that we give him the right time."

Miller's injury and Adam Hughes' departure to China have left Perth short on central midfield options for the Mariners clash, with a reshuffle putting Steve Pantelidis in the middle and Josh Mitchell at the heart of defence the most likely fix.

Although Ferguson said having to reshuffle wasn't ideal, he wasn't expecting it to be a major issue.

"We've got a plan and we've got a plan 'B' as well," he said.

"The players that will be in there have been in the midfield as well, so it won't be too big a step or too big a responsibility for them."

Glory, who sit fourth on 37 points trailing Central Coast (45), Brisbane (42) and Wellington (39), could be mathematically guaranteed of a finals spot for just the second time in the A-League if they beat the Mariners.

Ferguson said the game would also important to show they could match the Mariners and Roar, as they've taken just one point from their five games against the top two this season.

"That's not good enough," he said.

"I don't feel as though we're at that level yet where we're at the level of Mariners and Brisbane. That's what I want to strive to."