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Mar 28, 2013

Glory's Smeltz in brave bid to play finals

Banged up striker Shane Smeltz will need up to six weeks to recover from his latest facial injury, but the 31-year-old says he'll return to playing duties next week if Perth Glory reaches the A-league finals.

Smeltz required 15 stitches to his forehead last week after copping an errant boot while playing for New Zealand in their World Cup qualifier against New Caledonia.

The star Kiwi will miss Saturday night's crunch clash with Adelaide at nib Stadium, but says he'll play on through the discomfort if Glory sneak into the finals.

Perth will be guaranteed a spot in the finals if they beat Adelaide.

But if Newcastle Jets fail to gain maximum points from Friday night's home match against Western Sydney, then Glory will only need a draw to secure sixth spot.

Smeltz has become somewhat accustomed to facial injuries over the past year.

In last season's grand final against Brisbane, Smeltz required around 50 stitches to his lip and nose after being hit by a stray elbow.

Smeltz will have his latest set of stitches taken out on either Monday or Tuesday.

And although the gash will limit his ability to head the ball, he is determined to play if Glory squeeze into the finals.

"It's not going to be healed up for probably four to six weeks," Smeltz said on Friday.

"It's pretty tender, but all the swelling has gone out of it, and next week should be fine.

"It's just frustrating because it's on a bad position on the head.

"If it was the side of the head or the top it would be all right.

"But knowing me, first five minutes I'll probably have a header and split it open again."

Although rumours are building that Smeltz may seek a move away from Glory at the end of the season, the German-born Kiwi said he had no plans to leave the club and would serve out the final year of his contract.

Perth will be without a number of key players against Adelaide, with Liam Miller (suspended), Travis Dodd (knee), Chris Harold (calf) and Smeltz all unavailable.

The return of skipper Jacob Burns from suspension and defender Michael Thwaite from Socceroos duties comes as a welcome relief, but new coach Alistair Edwards says he is seriously considering handing 16-year-old midfielder Danny de Silva his first start.

"He's no longer a little baby any more," Edwards said.

"He's got two games under his belt and he's the kind of guy that thrives on this atmosphere."

The Glory are hoping for a crowd of around 18,000 after handing out almost 10,000 free tickets to soccer clubs around Western Australia.

Fourth-placed Adelaide are already guaranteed a home elimination final, but will be aiming to finish the regular season on a positive note after recording just two wins from their past 10 games.

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