Shane Smeltz celebrates a goal while playing for Sydney FC.
Shane Smeltz celebrates a goal while playing for Sydney FC. DEAN LEWINS

Phoenix keen to get Smeltz back into action

FOOTBALL: Shane Smeltz scored 28 times for the Perth Glory between 2011 and 2014, now the veteran striker could come back and haunt his old club with the Wellington Phoenix in Perth tonight.

The New Zealand international also played 39 times for the Phoenix between 2007 and 2009, scoring 29 goals, and won the Johnny Warren Medal at the end of the 2008-09 season.

He returned to the Phoenix just before Christmas after a stint in Malaysia and has not played since then, but it would seem co-coach Chris Greenacre would like to get the 35-year-old into his team sooner rather than later.

The Wellington outfit, unbeaten since Greenacre and head coach Des Buckingham took over from Ernie Merrick, drew 0-0 against Adelaide last Sunday and Greenacre said something was definitely missing in the final third.

"I think it's a ruthlessness, being really determined to score a goal, and we just seemed to be lacking that,” he said.

"Going in with everything you've got, the old cliche about going in where the boots are flying and it's dangerous and having that real killer instinct - we just didn't seem to have that.

"That's something that's just natural - you can't coach it, that instinct to be where the ball is - and I've no doubt that Shane would have scored (against Adelaide).”

Vince Lia will miss the trip to Perth through suspension, while Michael McGlinchey remains out with a minor calf tear picked up at training last Saturday after a spell out with a knee problem.

Buckingham said that with Smeltz coming in and McGlinchey's return imminent, the team was well placed to make the playoffs.

"With the exception of Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory, who have consistently put some results together, anyone can beat anyone in this league and I think the results, especially over the last couple of weeks, have shown that,” he said.

"So we're definitely still in the mix for the top four.

"We're still two points off fifth with a game in hand, we've kept two clean sheets in the last four games ... we've got players coming back and we're in a good space to actually kick on now in this season.”

Tonight: Glory v Phoenix, 8pm (AEST)



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