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Perth Glory coach Richard Garcia admits his team is entering into the unknown as they begin a month-long stretch on the road against Western United.
Friday’s game is the first of three straight A-League Men’s matches at AAMI Park for the Glory before trips to Brisbane and Adelaide.
That schedule means Garcia and his players won’t return to Perth before Christmas Eve, in what looms as a crucial early-season stretch.
“These guys are going to have to do it tough and they’re going to have to push through some difficult times especially with not having family and friends around, but that’s something that we’ve discussed before coming and everyone’s up for the challenge,” Garcia said.
“Any team, if you do well on the road, you’ve got a fantastic opportunity to win the league and that’s something that we’ve been focusing on now for a while since we’ve been made aware of the fixtures.
“We want to come away with as many points away from this road trip that we can.
“That’s our aim to be able to score as many points as we can and then get back to our fans and our home ground and really take it to people at home.”
The Glory are currently scheduled to get back on the road following Christmas for matches against Sydney and Western Sydney, with their next game at HBF Park not until the visit of Wellington Phoenix on January 15.
Already Garcia is dealing with a setback, with veteran striker Andy Keogh to sit out the Melbourne leg of the away run after injuring his calf in last week’s 1-1 draw with Adelaide.
Keogh’s absence won’t result in a first A-League Men’s start for star English import Daniel Sturridge on Friday however, with Garcia admitting the ex-Liverpool forward is not yet ready for a full 90 minutes.
“It’s a slow build. We’ve got to be ready to build Daniel up and make sure that he’s capable of playing a full game and that’s going to be done in the coming games,” the Glory coach said.
“We’ll give him a little bit more time come Friday and then build up from there.”
Western United began life under John Aloisi with a narrow 1-0 defeat against Melbourne Victory last weekend.
Friday’s game is the first of five out of Western’s next seven matches that will be played at AAMI Park and Aloisi is eager for his team to make the venue a home away from home.
“I’m sure the players will because it’s such a good stadium to play out of, as a footballer you love playing in that stadium,” Aloisi said.
“I remember my last year playing out of there. I really enjoyed it. I know all our players will as well.”