Popovic hoping for 'unscathed' Glory ahead of busy Summer of Heroes
Perth Glory head coach Tony Popovic has called for calm following his side’s 4-1 victory over Central Coast Mariners on Monday night, looking to keep his squad fresh ahead of the Summer of Heroes.
The New Year’s Eve fixture saw Perth race to a 3-0 lead at half-time before Andy Keogh’s second goal of the night restored their three-goal advantage.
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Popovic was proud of his players’ performances thus far, but accepted the need to manage the squad ahead of a busy Summer of Heroes where Glory will play six games in the space of 21 days.
“We’ll have to manage them,” said Popovic.
“They’re not going to be able to play like today — play on Sunday, then Wednesday, then Sunday at home — with all our travel.
“They won’t be able to do all that.
“It’ll be up to us to manage them the best we can [in] this January period and I’m hoping they all come through unscathed.
“Then from February onwards, when it’s back to a game a week, hopefully they’ll be back at full fitness.”
‘Great feeling' to ring in 2019
Perth’s win last night saw Popovic’s men finish the year in outright first on 23 points, three clear of nearest competitors Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC.
The team from the West began the season unbeaten in eight, before falling to Sydney FC 2-1 in Round 9 at home.
With the side back to their winning ways, and having been on top of the ladder on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, Popovic urged his players to enjoy the moment and look towards the hard work ahead.
“It’s a great feeling (to be on top),” said Popovic.
“I thought the players have done exceptionally well in the first third of the season to be in first spot, now we finish the year on top, so there’s a lot of good things to look back on.
“We’ll have a drink tonight, we’ll enjoy that, the club should be proud as well.
“But we know there’s a lot of work ahead, really busy schedule.
“We put ourselves in a good position, now we have to navigate the tricky period and try and finish the season strong.”