Marquee striker Shane Smeltz is a good chance to be selected in Perth Glory’s starting line-up for the first time since November when the WA side takes on Western Sydney Wanderers at Pirtek Stadium on Sunday.
Smeltz had a delayed start to the season following hip surgery and returned from an ankle injury this month, scoring two goals in two appearances off the bench.
He moved well at training today and could be joined in the starting line-up by new Serbian recruit Nebojsa Markinkovic, who worked well in tandem with the New Zealand international at McGillivray Oval.
But interim coach Kenny Lowe said he would take a cautious approach with Smeltz and defenders William Gallas and Josh Risdon, who are also returning from injury.
The same applies for Marinkovic, who arrived from Europe this week and is still recovering from jetlag and adapting to Australia’s heat.
“We’re giving him (Smeltz) game time in the training environment and we’ll see how he pulls up. We’ve got to be careful with him,” Lowe said.
“We’ll see how all those guys go. They’re probably a little bit underdone, but they’re good footballers. They’ll cope.”
Former Central Coast midfield star Rostyn Griffiths signed with Glory this week and declared himself fit to play against Western Sydney after overcoming an ankle injury that required minor surgery late last year.
But Griffiths said red tape could prevent him from being cleared in time for Sunday’s game.
“I sort of went over on it (the ankle) and needed a bit of repair, so nothing too serious. It’s all good now,” Griffiths said.
“I’ve been able to get decent physio from these boys and they’ve looked after me.
“There’s always a chance (of playing) but I’ve got to weight that up with the coaches to see if it’s worth putting the risk on for this extra week.
“Technically I wasn’t supposed to be ready for this weekend but it’s been feeling pretty good.
“They said to me by the end of January I’d be 100 per cent and I’ve been doing everything anyway.”
Former ECU Joondalup junior Griffiths knocked back offers from Asia to join Glory and said there was excitement building around his hometown club.
“It’s gone through a big transition and they’ve brought in some good players. I think it’s a team that now can challenge for the top half,” Griffiths said.
“It’s so far, so good, from what I’ve seen in training. The boys look sharp, everybody’s fit and they’ve brought in a few decent foreign players.
“I’ve really enjoyed it. There’s a lot of young talent coming through and it’s nice to see a lot of WA boys in the squad.”
Lithuanian international forward Darvydas Sernas passed a medical assessment this morning and is expected to sign with Glory today.
Glory officials told thewest.com.au last week a loan deal with Turkish club Gaziantepspor was all but signed and the deal could extend to the end of next season.
Lowe said contract talks were ongoing with former Socceroos defender Adrian Madaschi, who has been training with Glory since last week.
Madaschi recently returned to Perth after ending his stint with South Korean K-League side Jeju United.