Adelaide United defender Ryan Strain is anticipating a determined Perth Glory outfit ahead of their clash at nib Stadium on Friday night.
The Reds have struggled for consistency this season but still remain in fifth spot, one point ahead of sixth-placed Perth.
Last matchday, Adelaide suffered a frustrating 2-1 loss at Coopers Stadium, after failing to capitalise on their numerical advantage and inability to take their chances.
Meanwhile, the Glory were hit for six – annihilated by ladder leaders Sydney FC 6-0.
Strain is expecting a revved up Perth side and stressed the importance of securing the victory in order to distance themselves from the teams chasing the top six.
“It’s a massive game for us, they’re coming sixth and we’re fifth so it’s a six pointer for us,” he said.
“I reckon they’ll come out firing but we just have to keep playing the way we have been playing.
“Obviously we just came off a pretty bad loss so both teams will be looking for the win.
“So I think it will be an exciting game and hopefully we can get all three points.”
Marco Kurz’s men first visit West back in Round 5 saw them fall 1-0 courtesy of an Andy Keogh header, finally breaking Adelaide’s resistance after 80 minutes.
With United focused on returning to winning ways they will have to do without three key starters, who are absent with the Olyroos at the AFC U-23 Championship in China.
“It’s a good opportunity for the younger players,” he said.
“Players like (Daniel) Margush step in for (Paul) Izzo, but I think we have like for like changes and whoever steps in will do a good job.”
Strain has made a meteoric rise to the top since his debut for the Club against the Western Sydney Wanderers in November, nailing down a starting berth at right-back.
He has started in five consecutive matches since that game and was also swiftly handed a senior contract last month following a number of assured displays.
The 20-year-old, who was on a scholarship deal at the start of the campaign, admitted he never thought he would have received this much game time.
“Before this season I was talking to my dad and was like hopefully I try and get in the squad and try and get a sniff around after Christmas,” he said.
“But it’s all come quick and I got offered that extension deal, I’m really happy how it’s all gone.
“And obviously it’s through Mickey (Michael Marrone) getting suspended and that’s how I got my chance, but when you take it you just have to grasp it and try and do as best as you can.”
His impressive performances have also kept 30-year-old full-back, Michael Marrone, out of the XI.
But Strain revealed there was no hard feelings and stated the experienced defender has provided him with lots of advice.
“It’s football isn’t it,” he explained.
“You always get young boys coming up and when you get a chance you just have to take it.
“That’s like this weekend as well, obviously you’ll see Margush probably come in and if he plays well he’ll try and take Izzo’s spot – that’s just how it works.
“… Competition makes you play better.
“If you don’t play well you probably lose your spot so it’s always good because competition gets the best out of you.”
The Reds will be without first-team regulars Paul Izzo, Ben Garuccio and George Blackwood who are away on international duty with the Olyroos, while Vince Lia has been ruled out for six weeks with a knee injury.
However, Baba Diawara returns after overcoming a hip complaint and youngsters Isaac Richards, Ben Warland, Apostolos Stamatelopoulos and Mark Ochieng have all been promoted.
Last five meetings
1-0 loss @ nib Stadium
1-1 draw @ Coopers Stadium
0-5 loss @ Coopers Stadium
3-1 loss @ nib Stadium
1-3 win @ nib Stadium
Adelaide United will face Perth Glory in Round 14 of the Hyundai A-League 2017/18 season on Friday, 5 January at nib Stadium. Kick-off is at 9.30pm ACDT.