A player who’s a part of the furniture at Perth Glory and an experienced new face will be key to the club’s Hyundai A-League fortunes this season, according to Glory coach Kenny Lowe.
After a roller-coaster 2014/15 campaign, it’s a new beginning for the boys from the west with a return to finals football the ultimate goal.
And two vital cogs in Lowe’s plan to make that happen will be skipper Michael Thwaite and veteran shot-stopper Ante Covic.
Glory feared they would lose Thwaite in the off-season but – much to Lowe’s relief - the 32-year-old central defender decided to stick with the club.
“Michael had a few options to go abroad this year and we thought he would exercise them, they were exciting things for him,” Lowe told www.a-league.com.au.
“But thankfully for us he decided he wanted to stay.
“We had to prepare possibly to be without him but now it’s like signing a new player and that’s exciting for us.
“I’m absolutely rapt he’s still here. He’s a good lad and is always smiling around the place.
“It’s a bonus he’s so versatile that he can play anywhere as well,” Lowe added, with Thwaite a chance to fill the holding midfield role vacated by Rostyn Griffiths.
Lowe also hailed the addition of ex-Socceroo gloveman Covic, who joined Glory after he was released by Western Sydney Wanderers FC at the end of last season.
With regular custodian Danny Vukovic joining Hyundai A-League champions Melbourne Victory, there’s a sizeable hole to fill between the sticks and Covic seems an ideal fit.
“It’s great that he wants to play on,” Lowe said of the 40-year-old shot-stopper and 2014 ACL winner.
“We’re very fortunate to have someone of his ilk, not just as a player but as a person and what he brings into the changing room and on the pitch.
“I’m looking forward to him imparting his knowledge and experience not only to our ‘keepers but to the whole group.
“To have players of his experience and everything he’s done in his career is only going to help us on the pitch.”
A quick scan through Glory’s squad and it’s clear to see Lowe will again rely on his batch of seasoned professionals to make the side a force again.
As well as Covic and Thwaite, Glory has plenty of big-game experience to draw on from the likes of Dino Djulbic, Richard Garcia, Gyorgy Sandor, Guyon Fernandez, Antony Golec and Nebojsa Marinkovic.
But the Glory boss is not afraid to gamble on youth and wants to see youngsters like Mitch Oxborrow emerge as first-team regulars this season.
“It’s got to be a breakout year for Mitch,” Lowe said.
“He’s played at a good level, he’s been to World Youth Cups.
“Mitch has been in the A-League now for four of five seasons but you forget he’s still a young boy, he’s still a spring chicken really.
“We just hope he can evolve and get maybe 10 or 12 games in this year.”
Glory face the Wanderers in their Westfield FFA Cup quarter-final next Tuesday night September 29 before opening their Hyundai A-League season away to Central Coast Mariners on Saturday, October 10.