No Castro, no worries for Popovic

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Perth Glory’s Tony Popovic was unable to provide a return date for Spanish superstar Diego Castro, but his side’s attacking form leaves the club confident they can manage without their captain.

Castro was absent for the second straight week in Glory’s 4-2 victory over Wellington Phoenix at home on Friday night.

Popovic disputed claims Castro was managing a groin injury, instead insisting the injury was just a knock sustained weeks ago

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“A knock is a knock, it’s a kick,” he said.

“I don’t know about playing but he’ll be back training with the team during the week so we’re happy about that.”

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The sight of Castro on the HBF Park electronic screens triggered one of the biggest cheers of the night, as the fans threw their support behind their star man.

On the field, two goals for D’Agostino, who has levelled his entire Brisbane Roar tally in two starts at Glory, and another for Fornaroli mean there is little reason to worry about injuries to Castro and Chris Ikonomidis.

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“The more players that are in good form and are improving and evolving the better,” Popovic said.

“If one player is unavailable then other players step in.

“That’s what Nic (D’Agostino) has done, that’s what Jake (Brimmer) has done and also young Kristian and Gabby (Popovic), so it’s pleasing.”

Popovic said it had taken D’Agostino a long time, five or six months, to get up to speed at the club but it was important for him to keep his feet on the ground.

“Nic is starting to show the qualities he’s always had, we’re just trying to make that consistent and that comes from his training,” he said.

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“He came here for the right reasons, to better himself and we’re starting to see play that indicates that boy is on the right track.

“That’s two or three good games of football, I want to see him play 20 or 30 good games of football and then we might start talking about him in a different light.”

Popovic had a simple summation of his front three going forward this season and said Neil Kilkenny had aided the club’s young players development.

“It looks good, it looks very good,” he said.

“Hopefully there will be some more youngsters that get a run in this period and they’ll grow from that experience.”

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Popovic’s biggest headache it seems is the selection of his starting XI in coming weeks. Asking himself how does one fit four forwards, all producing top-class performances, into a front three.

It’s the question facing Perth as they launch their assault on the top end of the table and the A-League finals.

Feature image credit: Perth Glory

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