Perth Glory know they cannot afford to slip up tonight when they take on Sydney FC at nib Stadium if they are to qualify for the finals again this season.
Sydney have won just twice in their past 10 outings amidst an injury crisis and slipped to last place on the table after losing 3-0 to Adelaide United last week.
Sydney have used more players (28) than any other club this season and coach Frank Farina was forced to call on 16-year-old defender Aaron Calver against Adelaide.
By contrast, Glory have used just 19 players. The A-League average is 22.
Calver is in line to make his starting debut tonight as Farina cobbles together a makeshift defensive combination with Pascal Bosschart, Adam Griffiths and Fabio all sidelined.
Glory coach Ian Ferguson also has defensive issues and is likely to use Dean Heffernan and Steve Pantelidis at the back with Michael Thwaite (calf) and Bas van den Brink (suspended) unavailable.
Glory were in control of their last meeting with Sydney at ANZ Stadium in round four before Pantelidis’ sending-off changed the course of the match.
Italian superstar Alessandro Del Piero has overcome a calf injury and shapes as a major threat to the home side.
“Last time we learnt the further away you keep Del Piero from goal, the less effective he was,” Ferguson said.
“He’s looks very dangerous when he gets close to the box.
“He creates chances and puts balls through for assists.
“He’s a player that can change a game in a heartbeat and we’ve got to make sure we keep him quiet.”
Forward Shane Smeltz is expected to play for Glory despite hurting his groin in training this week.