Skipper Jacob Burns returns for Perth after missing the past six matches. Picture: Getty Images
Skipper Jacob Burns will return from six weeks on the sidelines for Perth Glory against the Newcastle Jets on Friday night, as his side attempts to force its way into the finals. Despite being second from bottom on the A-League ladder, the bottom half of the table is so tight that they can quite feasibly force their way into the top six over the final four rounds.
As well as getting Burns back on field, coach Alistair Edwards is likely to be able to call on the services of Travis Dodd, Dean Heffernan and Nick Ward after the trio missed last weekend’s vital 2-1 win over Sydney FC. Daniel De Silva became the youngest player to debut for Perth when coming off the bench as a 15 year-old against the Sky Blues and is likely to retain his place in the squad, while the coaching staff is hopeful that defender Steve Pantelidis will recover from a leg injury in time to face the Jets.
Newcastle has some worries of its own, with marquee man Emile Heskey ruled out with a calf injury. Although the Jets are fifth on the table, the chasing pack is closing fast following the sides embarrassing 5-0 defeat to Melbourne Victory on Sunday and the club needs a few more wins to ensure they are playing finals football in April. Veteran striker Michael Bridges was rested against Melbourne and will return, while Gary van Egmond will hope to have Zenon Caravella and Sam Gallaway available following hamstring injuries.
The Jets go into this match with just two wins from their past eight fixtures, while the inconsistent Glory has won two of its past three. These sides have met on two occasions already this season with Perth collecting the three points on both occasions, although their 3-2 and 3-0 wins came at nib Stadium in the West Australian capital.
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