Edwards still confident of finals berth
Perth Glory coach Alistair Edwards says the club's players are confident of reaching the finals despite sitting three points off sixth place.
The West Australian side will tackle Newcastle Jets on Friday night in what is Edwards' fourth game in charge since replacing Ian Ferguson and he believes his charges are improving fast.
They will need to continue that improvement as they head into the final four games of the A-League regular season.
"The finals race is really exciting because every team still has a mathematical chance of going through," he said.
"When (assistant coach) Gareth Naven and myself came in, we were rock-bottom and no-one was giving us a chance, but we've had a couple of decent results.
"The performances are getting better and better each week and that's the really pleasing part of it.
"The boys are doing extremely well and they have a genuine belief that we have a big shot of making finals football.
"We really want to play in the finals.
"We've talked about coming here and starting a process and having a long-term vision and so on, but we've got to balance that with week-to-week games.
"We beat the top team in Central Coast, had a narrow loss against Western Sydney and then played the glamour club in Sydney and beat them and there was a really exciting buzz around the stadium."
Edwards went on to reveal that Jacob Burns is set to return to competitive action in the Hunter Stadium clash having missed the last six games due to a nagging back injury, but he wouldn't be drawn on whether his influential skipper will come straight back into the starting 11.
"It's good to have Burns back but no-one in our squad is an automatic choice," Edwards said.
"We've now got a squad of 26 players and last week we were missing three very influential players, but the guys who came in did exceptionally well and having done exceptionally well, they'll start again this week.
"The challenge now is who is going to come in on the bench.
"We've discussed it as a group and we're going to make sure we have the best available players playing every week bearing in mind that there are some players who are good at playing home games and others that are more suited to the away-game environment."
Steve Pantelidis (Achilles) and Nick Ward (quad) will both miss out this week, while Travis Dodd and Dean Heffernan are likely to be named on the bench alongside Argentine recruit Matias Cordoba who is set to make way for the returning Burns.
In other news, Edwards has continued his youthful overhaul of the club by signing another two promising local products in Riley Woodcock and Matt Davies.
The teenage full-backs were handed their shirts by club legend Scott Miller at a training-ground presentation on Thursday and Edwards hinted both could see A-League action before the end of the campaign.
"They are fresh faces as far as the senior squad is concerned but I've known both boys for the best part of 10 years through my local club Cockburn, the AIS and the NTC," he said.
"They are Perth boys, really good kids and now they've got a really good opportunity to progress their careers.
"We are signing players to be part of the squad and depending on how they perform in training, they are up for selection."