Undermanned Perth Glory's chances of securing a much-needed win against Brisbane Roar at nib Stadium tonight have suffered a further blow, with Shane Smeltz and Jacob Burns in serious doubt because of injury.
Marquee striker Smeltz has been battling a groin complaint, while captain Burns picked up a back injury this week.
Both missed training yesterday and are unlikely to play in tonight's game, the result of which could play a big part in determining Glory's finals chances.
Coach Ian Ferguson conceded Glory were unlikely to reach the top four and said qualifying for the finals was now the club's main objective.
Glory have managed just two draws in their past five games and have slipped out of the top six for the second time this season.
They are winless since their last game against Brisbane, a 1-0 triumph at Suncorp Stadium in round 12.
"The top four now seems to be getting away from us," Ferguson said.
"We've got to make sure now that we're still in the pack.
"There are a lot of points to be won and lost over the next 10 games and the expectation is to get into that top six."
Injury woes and suspensions will force Ferguson to reshuffle his line-up for tonight's game.
Young defender Jack Clisby is likely to make his senior debut after being promoted from the youth team this week.
Clisby, 20, is expected to fill in at centre-half for Bas van den Brink, who has a calf injury and was on light duties at training yesterday.
Michael Thwaite will return from a calf injury after missing the past four matches, but Josh Risdon and Liam Miller are unavailable through suspension.
"You always want your top players and your best players, but this is the card we've been dealt with suspensions and injuries," Ferguson said.
"We've just got to get on with it, it's as simple as that."
Glory have a poor overall record against Brisbane but have beaten the reigning champions twice in as many games since the heartbreaking defeat in last year's grand final.
The villain from that game, Albanian striker Besart Berisha, has been ruled out for Brisbane through suspension, as has veteran defender Shane Steffanutto.Roar captain Matt Smith (hip), Do Dong-Hyun (knee) and Henrique (hip) are also unavailable.
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