Perth Glory coach Ruben Zadkovich will be forced to “piece together” a side for Thursday’s crucial Australia Cup elimination qualifying clash with the Newcastle Jets.
Five players from the shock 2-0 win over Premiers’ Plate winners Melbourne City in their final regular season game are unlikely to fly out for the match at Jack McLaughlin Oval in Edgeworth.
It is understood former England and Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge will also be left behind.
Zadkovich said there was a lot expectation on the young squad, a dozen who have made their debut from the club’s NPL side this season.
“We’ve got a bit of a battered squad,” Zadkovich said.
“We still have to fitness test players but it looks like five may not be available off the back of the performance against Melbourne.
“There will definitely be some big, forced changes.
“That makes the task even more difficult but we’ll piece something together.
“It’s disappointing but it’s another bit of adversity the boys have to face and another challenge they will have to embrace.
“We have to keep our expectations firmly in check, be realistic about what we expect from these guys.
“They are very young, some of them are still teenagers.
“The old phrase that there is no substitute for experience has never been more true.”
Glory need a win to rebuild from the wreckage of a disastrous COVID-hit season that left them bottom of the A-League for their first time in their history.
Victory will clinch a spot in the round of 32 with the top eight A-League clubs, the winner of the other qualifying game between Western Sydney Wanderers and Brisbane Roar on Friday and 22 clubs from Australian state leagues.
Zadkovich, Glory’s academy coach, was parachuted in for the final 10 games after Richard Garcia was sacked.
“It’s crucial to win because going forward it gives you games in the next pre-season which is important,” he said.
“It’s a difficult game from an emotional point of view, given what the players have been through this year.
“We’ll be underdogs but we’ll embrace it.”
Glory’s last two games against the Jets ended in a goalless draw in March at HBF Park and a 6-1 away loss last month.
“They will come out hard and fast and go at us,” Zadkovich said.
“That means you need mobility and experience to deal with chaos. We don’t have experience and so the chaos can be difficult.”