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Jan 5, 2007

Glory pick a fight with the A-League

Perth coach Ron Smith has spiced up Sunday night's A-League clash with Melbourne by doing what the Glory have been good at in recent weeks, picking a fight.

After two Perth players infamously tussled on national television, Smith is now spoiling for a fight with the A-League, over the regulation restricting clubs to a bench of just three outfield substitutes per game.

Ahead of Sunday night's home match (kick off 2000 AEDT), the Glory are pushing the unedifying clash between captain Jamie Harnwell and Adrian Webster against Adelaide to one side, insisting harmony is restored.

But Smith was less complimentary about the league regulation restricting him to three replacements, saying it was out of step with the rest of the football world.

"This has never happened to me before in my coaching career. It is usually five or seven in my experience," Smith said.

"There are certain players I would have liked to have given to more time on the park ... but we have to nominate three subs before the weekend ... and that has limited some of the opportunities.

"There are times when you have more players ... I have found that really unsatisfactory in my mind as a coach how it limits what you can do with the other players in the squad, and I would love to see that changed."

Ahead of his first appearance since being fined, censured but avoiding a suspension for his part in the on-field fracas with Webster, Harnwell admitted to acute embarrassment over the incident.

"I have never been involved in a situation like that before, and hope to never be again - I embarrassed friends and family and people I don't even know," he said.

"I wish the incident hadn't happened that's for sure.

"But Webby and I got together and spoke about things, sorted things out and I think you can tell by training that nothing's been affected.

Glory will be without Stan Lazaridis and Naum Sekulovski for the rest of the season after both were booked in for surgery this week."

Perth is all but out of the finals race and Melbourne fielding a second-string line-up.

But while the result at Members Equity Stadium will be of little consequence, Victory coach Ernie Merrick says individuals on both sides have plenty to play for.

For the Victory, a clutch of fringe players will be given a rare berth in the starting side and a chance to put themselves in the frame for a finals spot.

"It's definitely great to be winning and be in this position and having the luxury of knowing we don't have to win every game now to be in the top position," Merrick said.

"Our players are so motivated to win the championship and win a first XI spot for that championship, so we're in a great position."

The most notable change to the Victory's regular line-up will be in attack.

Dangerous goal-scoring trio Archie Thompson (suspended), Daniel Allsopp and Fred (both rested) will all stay in Melbourne.

It gives English striker James Robinson his first opportunity to start a match, after four appearances off the bench.

Kristian Sarkies and Michael Ferrante, who have both also had limited minutes this season, will be others looking to get on the scoreboard for the first time.

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