Striker Bruce Djite is convinced Saturday night’s game against Perth Glory will be the best possible tonic for the Reds leading into the finals.
Striker Bruce Djite is convinced Saturday night-s game against Perth Glory will be the best possible tonic for the Reds leading into the finals.
The Reds will head west in the final round to face a Glory side that knows a win would elevate it into the top six.
Currently sitting a point behind fifth and sixth on the table, Perth-s situation means the Reds are certain to face the kind of cutthroat finals-like pressure a week early.
The opening of the new stand at nib Stadium and an expected bumper crowd will only further give the game a finals type atmosphere and buzz.
Djite, who made his return from an ankle injury off the bench for the last 16 minutes in last Sunday-s loss to the Central Coast Mariners, says the players are viewing their Glory mission as the ideal lead up to what they can expect to confront come finals time.
“We don-t have time to dwell on that (the result against the Mariners), the finals are around the corner and I think Perth is a perfect dress rehearsal for that, they-re opening up the new stand and it-s do-or-die for them as well,” Djite said.
“They-ll be playing for their lives and literally a finals spot – if they beat us they qualify for the six, so it-s the perfect dress rehearsal for us, and we can still finish third so we-re going to go for that.”
Indeed, a win would slingshot the Reds into third above Melbourne Victory, although it would then come down to the Victory-s result against the Wellington Phoenix in New Zealand on Sunday.
A day after celebrating his 26th birthday, Djite said it was now time for the Reds to stand and deliver. Knowing the talent in the squad is there, Djite said it was now about the players proving they have the hunger and desire to go deep into the finals.
“I seriously believe it-s a perfect scenario for us to go and see what we-re made of,” Djite said.
“It-ll be a hostile atmosphere, big crowd, the Perth supporters can get pretty vocal as well, so that-s what finals football is going to be like, and to replicate that a week before is probably a bonus for us.”
“It-s easy to stand here and say it but we-ve got to go out on the field and show it, and show the fans and the club and the coaches that we do mean business this season.”
Meanwhile, Osama Malik (ankle) and Marcelo Carrusca (groin) both completed training with the main group this morning and appear a good chance to be considered to make the trip west.
On the other side, Perth will regain captain Jacob Burns from suspension but lose playmaker Liam Miller to a one match ban, while it has been confirmed that midfielder Travis Dodd has torn his ACL meaning the former Reds captain and fan favourite will require a knee reconstruction.