Glory without Shane Smeltz for Phoenix clash

SIMON PLUMB
Last updated 05:00 31/01/2013
Phoenix
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CHALLENGE: Perth's Shane Smeltz and Phoenix captain Andrew Durante contest the ball in the air.

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Perth Glory duo Shane Smeltz and Jacob Burns have been ruled out of Saturday's A-League game against the Wellington Phoenix in Auckland.

It is a significant boost for the bottom of the table Phoenix. A win against fellow strugglers Perth would breathe new life into their hopes of making the playoffs.

Smeltz's absence does carry negatives however, with New Zealand fans missing out on a relatively rare opportunity to see their star international striker take to the field on home soil.

Both Smeltz and Burns also missed Perth's last game, a 1-0 loss at home to Brisbane Roar, last Saturday.

Phoenix captain Andrew Durante says his side must capitalise on their absence and get the Phoenix's season back on track.

"We've really got to take advantage. There'll be no feeling sorry for teams at this stage, we're desperate for points," Durante said.

"He [Smeltz] is very important to any team, he's lethal. He doesn't do too much in general play in some games but it seems like whenever he doesn't do a lot he scores goals.

"You've always got to be careful with Smeltzy."

With the exception of Tony Lochhead, who is suspended after being sent off last week, Durante said the rest of the Phoenix squad are injury and suspension-free.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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