Glory s makeshit strike force for NZ job
Steve McGarry.

It doesn't shape as the most entertaining fixture of the season, but today's game between Perth Glory and Wellington Phoenix at Eden Park could be one of the most important for both sides.

Both are out of form after positive starts to the season and will be desperate to stay in the finals hunt, but they have struggled to find the back of the net with any regularity.

Glory coach Ian Ferguson will again be forced to field a makeshift attack, with marquee striker Shane Smeltz sidelined for the second week with a groin injury.

Ferguson said midfielder Travis Dodd would start up front again, but he might experiment with several part-time options available.

Steven McGarry has scored three times for Glory this season and is expected to partner Liam Miller in a deep-lying midfield role.

McGarry said Glory were focused on improving their poor goal-scoring record against the leakiest defence in the league.

Wellington have conceded 32 goals in 18 games, including seven against Sydney FC a fortnight ago.

"They've always been renowned as a strong unit and always worked hard together, especially in defence which has been a real strong point for them," McGarry said.

"But this year they have been conceding a lot of goals.

"They've just not looked as tight and we've been working on ways to get in behind their back four and penetrate them.

"We've been concentrating on what we can do and how we can get in behind them."

Glory captain Jacob Burns is still out of action with a back injury, but Ferguson will regain first-team regulars Josh Risdon and Liam Miller from suspension and Dean Heffernan from injury.

Glory turned their season around in January last year when wins away to Wellington and Melbourne Heart kick-started a run that culminated in the club's first grand final appearance since 2004 in the then National Soccer League.

Risdon was confident the same fixtures at a similar time this season would provide a platform for Glory to move back into the top six.

"We've got a few younger boys coming into the team now and that's made things pretty lively around the place," Risdon said.

"Now it's about getting back to winning ways."

Left-sided defender Ian Hogg is expected to start for Phoenix in place of the suspended Tony Lochhead, who was sent off in the draw with Newcastle last week.

English forward Paul Ifill returned from injury to bolster the attack last week and Isaka Cernak could start for the first time since joining Wellington last month.

The West Australian

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