Soccer: Smeltz fit to face Victory

Perth Glory striker Shane Smeltz has recovered sufficiently from the kick to the face he suffered on international duty to declare himself fully fit for the A-League playoffs. Photo / Getty Images.
Perth Glory striker Shane Smeltz has recovered sufficiently from the kick to the face he suffered on international duty to declare himself fully fit for the A-League playoffs. Photo / Getty Images.

Perth Glory striker Shane Smeltz has recovered sufficiently from the kick to the face he suffered on international duty to declare himself fully fit for the A-League playoffs.

The A-League's record goalscorer needed 15 stitches to close the wound sustained in New Zealand's 2-1 victory over New Caledonia last month, but he is raring to go ahead of Friday night's elimination final against Melbourne Victory.

Smeltz was on the sidelines during last week's home clash with Adelaide United but, with seven goals to his name this term, he is ready to return to the fray in the sudden death encounter at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne.

"I'm right to go and I'm looking forward to it,'' he said. "The injury's been fine and I haven't really thought about it. This week we've had two or three sessions and I haven't had to tape it up.

"It's touch and go whether I'll have to tape it up for the game, but it won't bother me if I do have to do that.''

His fitness will be a boost and Smeltz believes he and his Glory colleagues are capable of upsetting the odds by downing a Victory side who were many pundits' pre-season title favourites.

"We've played some good football in the last few weeks and we're quietly confident,'' he said. "We're looking at the situation as an opportunity to go over there and spoil their party in Melbourne. They are a good side and that's why they've finished where they have. "They've got some very good players and we won't be underestimating them, but we are confident that we can go over there and get the job done.''

Coach Alistair Edwards, meanwhile, was understandably delighted to welcome Smeltz back into his squad, but would not be drawn on whether the 31-year-old will be named in the starting XI to face the navy and whites.

"It's nice to have a player of Shane's capabilities ready and available for selection,'' he said. ``He hasn't played with us for two weeks and he took an horrific knock to the head. We discussed [whether he'll start] a lot last night and we'll have another discussion this afternoon.

"Shane's a big-game player, there's no doubt about that.''

- APNZ

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