Perth Glory coach Tony Popovic is optimistic that injured defensive duo Matt Spiranovic and Tomislav Mrcela will be fit and available for Round One of the 2018/19 A-League season.
Spiranovic and Mrcela are both new signings this off-season at Glory but arrived at the club with pre-existing injuries.
Glory have bolstered their defensive ranks with the additions of Jason Davidson, Ivan Franjic and Dino Djulbic as well as Spiranovic and Mrcela after conceding 50 goals in 27 matches last season, the second-worst in the A-League.
Spiranovic, 30, joined Perth from Chinese second tier club Hangzhou Greentown where he had regular injury problems. The 2014 World Cup Socceroo had a hip clean-out earlier this year.
Perth-born Mrcela also battled injury at his previous club Chunnam Dragons, with a knee problem affecting his final six months at the club before signing with Glory.
All of Glory’s players have now reported for pre-season duty under Popovic with Spiranovic and Mrcela part of that group but on a modified training programme.
“They’re still building up their fitness,” Popovic said.
“They both came with prior issues when they arrived. We knew their situation.
“We’re just planning towards the start of the season. Anything before that will be a bonus.
“It’s day by day, week by week with them. They’re improving, getting stronger and starting to train a little longer with the group.
“We still have to manage them and control what we can with their rehabilitation and how we reintegrate them into full training.”
Spiranovic, in particular, is a key signing for Perth given his pedigree. He also previously won an A-League premiership and the AFC Champions League while playing under Popovic at Western Sydney Wanderers.
Glory are due to face Melbourne Victory in Perth on August 7 in the FFA Cup Round of 32.
It is understood they are hopeful of a friendly against the WA State Team next week ahead of their cup clash.