Closing the gap to the A-League Men top six is high on the agenda for both Central Coast and Perth Glory when they meet on Sunday.
With the Mariners four points adrift of the finals spots and the Glory seven, but each with games in hand after COVID-19 postponements, a win for either at Central Coast Stadium could spark a push towards the post-season.
Perth coach Richard Garcia said Bruno Fornaroli, Brandon O’Neill and Mitch Oxborrow were likely to start after their absences, while Jack Clisby is also in the mix.
Star English striker Daniel Sturridge will not play, however, as he continues to struggle after his bout with coronavirus.
While Perth have four games in hand on sixth-ranked Adelaide, Garcia said it was “definitely” time to start stressing about getting points on the board.
“You need to be able to pick up a good amount of points away from home, we’ve taken six (points) from six (games) and we need to improve on that,” he said.
“At the same time there’s been challenges we’re trying to overcome… I can’t remember the last time we played games back-to-back where everyone was fit and healthy.”
The contest will marks Irishman Andy Keogh’s 150th A-League Men’s appearance — across three spells with Perth — although the Glory stalwart was keen to play that accomplishment down.
“It’s just a number. I’ve been loyal to the club and it keeps being loyal to me,” he said.
“Perth is my home now and it will be for the foreseeable future.
“I like to think the fans respect someone who stays loyal.”
Meanwhile, the Mariners will be playing just 72 hours after their chaotic 3-3 draw with Macarthur, in which they trailed 2-0 and led 3-2.
“We’ve pulled up pretty good considering we only played a couple days ago … we’re back now preparing for Perth Glory,” defender Dan Hall said.
“They’ve been playing away from home for the whole season now. We’ve analysed them and know their attacking threats and we know where we can hurt them.”
The eighth-placed Mariners haven’t won in three games while the bottom-placed Glory have lost three of their past four outings.