Perth Glory coach Ian Ferguson has backed misfiring marquee man Shane Smeltz as he prepares the squad for tomorrow's game against Sydney FC at nib Stadium.
Injury, personal matters and international duty with New Zealand combined to limit Smeltz's contribution and he is under another injury cloud after leaving the training pitch early with a groin problem yesterday.
But a club spokesman said Smeltz was expected to be available for tomorrow's game.
Smeltz has started Glory's past seven games, but has found the net just twice this season, including once from the penalty spot.
He squandered Glory's best chance of the game when he put a close-range volley wide of the target in a 1-0 loss to league leaders Central Coast on Monday.
"Strikers will go through these barren spells where they can't find the net for love nor money, then all of a sudden they'll put four, five, six goals in," Ferguson said.
"That's the way strikers are, they live or die by their goals, and unfortunately Smeltzy's going through a little dry patch. He'll come good and I'm sure he'll start putting the ball in the net sooner rather than later."
Glory rank fifth for total shots and shots on target this season, but average a league-worst one goal per game.
Ferguson has pleaded with his side to lift the tempo of its attacking play and said quicker movement of the ball could make the difference.
"We need to start penetrating teams like what we were doing probably in the first five, six games," Ferguson said.
"I feel as though we've got away from that. We need to be more thoughtful going forward.
"Our ball speed is pretty slow at times and we need to be quicker in that."
Glory were in control of their previous meeting with Sydney, leading 1-0 at ANZ Stadium in round four before defender Steve Pantelidis was sent off early in the second half.
The Sky Blues recovered to win 2-1, but have won just twice in their past 10 outings, slipping to last place on the table after a 3-0 defeat to Adelaide on Monday.
An injury crisis has gripped the club and forced chief executive Tony Pignata to call a meeting to discuss the problem with coaching, fitness and conditioning staff.Striker Alessandro Del Piero, who was rested for the Adelaide game, will return against Glory, while Jason Culina (knee), Joel Chianese (thigh) and Ali Abbas (suspension) were all included in the squad.