Perth Glory captain Jacob Burns will increase his workload at training tomorrow but has been ruled out of the crucial clash with Sydney FC at nib Stadium on Saturday.
Burns has missed the past five matches with a back injury as his Glory teammates have fought to stay in the finals hunt.
The WA side sits five points out of the top six with five games left in the regular season and a loss to Sydney this week would all but end their slim chances of qualifying for the finals.
Burns completed parts of this morning’s training session but will not play against a Sydney side featuring Italian superstar Alessandro Del Piero and Socceroos captain Lucas Neill.
“Burnsy did part of the session and he’ll be joining in more tomorrow,” Glory interim coach Alistair Edwards said.
“He’s been out for over a month now so the sooner we can get him back into the training environment, the better.
“He won’t be available this weekend but our physio department has been working wonders and putting in a whole lot of extra time to ensure that we can get him on the park as soon as possible.
“But, in saying that, you’ve got to just balance that with match fitness and the injury.”
First-choice centre-half Michael Thwaite was rested from this morning’s session, but the fringe Socceroos defender will be available to play against Sydney.
“Michael’s just got a really slight little bit of soreness, so he’ll be fine,” Edwards said.
Seventh-placed Sydney are also fighting to stay in the finals hunt and will be without suspended defender Sebastian Ryall for Saturday’s game.
Ryall scored a late equaliser to earn his side a share of the points when the two teams met in round 15.