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With Glory out, Lowe turns to next season

NZN 30/04/2017 Emma Kemp

Diego Castro will be the priority when Perth coach Kenny Lowe starts to re-shape his team for the next A-League campaign a week earlier than he'd have liked.

Glory's encouraging late-season run ended on Saturday night, when they were bundled out 3-0 by premiers and semi-final opponents Sydney FC.

The focus now turns to retaining the core of a talent-stacked squad starting to hit their straps, with marquee Castro (13 goals, seven assists) the top of the wishlist.

As he did last year, the reigning Johnny Warren Medallist will head back to Spain in the off-season to consider his future.

It's understood Glory are confident the 34-year-old former La Liga man will return to Western Australia where his family are now relatively settled.

But Lowe said he hadn't been given any guarantees.

"It's his choice," he said.

"It's probably not the answer you want but it's the truth.

"Diego will do what he wants and if we're part of that equation that's fantastic."

Frontmen Andy Keogh (12 goals, five assists) and Adam Taggart (12 goals, one assist) are already on board for 2017-18, as is winger Chris Harold (three goals, eight assists).

Right-back Josh Risdon is set to head east to Western Sydney with Wanderers counterpart Scott Neville returning to Perth on a three-year deal, while teen striker Kosta Petratos is off to join wooden-spooners Newcastle.

Defender Rhys Williams has been linked to glamour clubs Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC after an eventful first season in purple.

Also off-contract is fearless defender Dino Djulbic, in-form goalkeeper Liam Reddy, Richard Garcia, Nebojsa Marinkovic, Marc Warren and Aryn Williams.

"We've got lads who have scored nearly 40 goals between the three of them so that's a tick to start with before you go anywhere," Lowe said.

"We've got 14 players out of contract so we've got to sit down with everybody and chat and see what everyone wants to do.

"Some will want to stay, some will want to go. We'll want some to stay and we'll want some to go."

Lowe said the playing group were "in a state of despair" over the loss at Allianz Stadium, having come agonisingly close to being the first team to make the grand final from fifth place.

But he was proud of his team's second-half fighting spirit despite going down three goals by the break.

"We've had a super year and put together a decent run coming into this game," Lowe said.

"We're the form team in the league after Sydney.

"It's difficult to go out at this stage because you always want more. But we've been beaten by a better side, you can't hide from that fact.

"You've got to hold you hands up and say `they played well and they deserved what they got'."

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