Perth Glory marquee striker Shane Smeltz will have to make do with a spot on the bench when he returns from injury against A-League leaders Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium tomorrow.
Smeltz has been sidelined since tearing a hamstring while on international duty with New Zealand last month but has moved well in three training sessions since rejoining the main group this week.
But coach Ian Ferguson will take a cautious approach to bringing Smeltz back into the fray, indicating his first-choice front man was likely to see about half an hour of action against Adelaide.
Smeltz conceded he should not have played in the second World Cup qualifier against Tahiti on October 16 after pulling up tight following a game four days earlier.
He said a tough travel schedule didn't give him time to recover, but he was called on by All Whites coach Ricki Herbert in the second half.
He suffered a 2cm tear in his left hamstring.
Smeltz has been called up again by New Zealand for Wednesday's friendly against China in Shanghai and will have to deal with more travel.
Ferguson said he would not try to stop Smeltz playing in the FIFA-sanctioned match.
"We've just had him back for three sessions and now he's going away again, which isn't good. But that's the rules and we've got to agree with it," Ferguson said.
"I don't have a word with anybody but at the end of the day I just hope that they'll be sensible and realise that he's just come back."
Billy Mehmet has led the line for Glory in Smeltz's absence, scoring twice in a bright start to the season.
With Jacob Burns sidelined by a thigh injury, Nick Ward and Steve McGarry were given new roles in the middle of the park against Newcastle last Saturday night and responded with a goal each.
Glory spent more time than usual working on set pieces at training yesterday and will be looking for a breakthrough win away from home tomorrow after feeling they deserved better than their two losses so far on the road this season.
They have won the past four meetings with Adelaide.
But Adelaide have been the form side of the competition with four wins in five games, including a 1-0 win over Brisbane last week courtesy of a Dario Vidosic free kick.
·Perth Glory women's team will be looking to bounce back from last week's defeat when it takes on Newcastle at Wanderers Oval today. Lisa De Vanna will make her W-League return for Glory.
- A-LEAGUE FIXTURES *
Western Sydney Wanderers v Newcastle Jets, Sydney FC v Melbourne Victory
Wellington Phoenix v Central Coast Mariners, Adelaide United v Perth Glory