W-League: Glory subs in line for more game time

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Perth Glory coach Jamie Harnwell will weigh up whether to give some of his bench players more game time in the final two regular season matches before the Westfield W-League finals.

Harnwell has used the same starting XI for the past fortnight and is unlikely to make any changes to his preferred line-up for the club’s home semi-final next month unless a player is unavailable due to injury or suspension.

But the coach hinted he may give the likes of Carys Hawkins, Gabe Marzano and Elisa D’Ovidio more time on the pitch in Glory’s final two games against Sydney FC and Canberra so they are ready to fill a void if one of their teammates is ruled out.

“We need to maintain momentum and we want to keep winning games because it’s a good habit to be in and not something we want to break,” Harnwell said.

“But we’ve got to be mindful there are some players who haven’t played a huge amount of football this season, but may be called upon in either the semi-final or the grand final if we get there.

“That being said, you’ve got to stay true to players who have done the job week in, week out so we’ll sit down and see how everyone’s travelling physically, what situations are with yellow cards and things like that, and put together a plan so we’re hopefully peaking at the right time in the semi-final.”

Glory claimed the W-League premiership before last Saturday’s 5-0 win over Western Sydney when Canberra United failed to claim maximum points against the Newcastle Jets earlier in the day.

It was the first time a Perth Glory outfit has secured a piece of silverware since Harnwell tasted victory as a player with the men’s side in the final season of the now-defunct National Soccer League.

Harnwell gave all of his players three days off training following their historic premiership win and he hopes the short respite will give his team an edge in the finals.

“It’s been pretty full on for them because they’re all studying, working or doing other things as well,” Harnwell said, adding the rest was predetermined given Glory has a bye this weekend.

“It’s not just about the football so it’s important they get a bit of time off for their own sake and then they can come back refreshed and re-energised.”

A proud Harnwell, who has coached the women’s team for the past four seasons, said his all-conquering side deserved everything that came their way following a record-breaking season in which Glory has lost just one game to date.

Harnwell was initially not going to pose for a photo with the happy team as they celebrated with a commemorative premiership shield at the end of last Saturday’s game until he was reluctantly coaxed in the victory shot by a couple of the players.

“The players deserve it, they’re the ones who go out on the park and work hard and put the effort in,” Harnwell said.

“What we do as coaches, at times, has pretty minimal effect and I’ve had my time in the sun as a player and the group we’ve got at the moment and deserve every accolade that they get.”

Harnwell has the rare honour of being involved in all of the major triumphs at Perth Glory, including two NSL championships as a player with the men’s team in 2002-03 and 2003-04, and could add another title to his individual resume next month if his side can win the W-League grand final for the first time.

“To have had success a player and then as a coach of the women’s team of the same club is a nice feeling, but it will be even better if we can add a championship to that as well,” he said.

“I’m not sure there will be too many people who have both coached and played in championships at a national level, but we won’t get ahead of ourselves because there’s a lot of work to do before we can worry about that.”

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