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Castro set for shock return against Sydney

AAP logoAAP 16/12/2016 Emma Kemp

Stalling Perth could receive a major boost against A-League leaders Sydney FC, with star Spanish playmaker Diego Castro a chance to make a shock early return from injury.

Castro has been sorely missed since tearing his hamstring three weeks ago, as the fifth-placed Glory stretched a dreadful run to one win in the past seven games.

He was listed as still being three weeks away from playing when Perth announced their squad on Thursday, but coach Kenny Lowe revealed the Sky Blues might see the 34-year-old Johnny Warren Medallist on the bench for Saturday's clash at nib Stadium.

"I think he might be on the bench, which will be a big boost for everyone," Lowe said on Friday, clarifying Castro's inclusion would not be an impulse reaction to his side's lacklustre form.

"He'll only come back if he's right ... it's not a knee-jerk thing.

"He's trained all week, so he's close.

"Also, you've got the opposition looking a little bit if you can manage to chuck him into the mix."

Lowe said he'd had a brutally honest talk with his team after last weekend's woeful 2-1 loss to Newcastle, the lowest point of a recent slip in standard.

"It wasn't acceptable," Lowe said.

"We need a reaction at the weekend, and we've got a fantastic opportunity because it doesn't come any bigger than Sydney.

"They're the form team, and you take some heart if you can overturn the form team.

"But if we manage that it means that inconsistency one week to the next needs to disappear."

Lowe denied the Glory's recent on-field troubles had leaked into the dressing room amid reports two players had a heated exchange after being booed off the pitch at halftime of the Jets match.

"Not so much at halftime because you still feel you can get something out of the game," he said.

"Maybe after event reality sets in, the disappointment comes around and you do have a few home truths, but that's to be expected.

"Even if there was a six on six fisticuffs fight - which there wasn't - whatever goes on in there stays in there.

"It's football, everybody cares. I'd be a bit worried if they all sat down and had a camomile tea and chilled out."

STATS THAT MATTER:

* Sydney have won four of their past six games against Perth, with the Glory yet to taste victory at home under Kenny Lowe.

* Perth have a league-high four goals in the opening 15 minutes of games this campaign, though Sydney (3) aren't far behind.

* Sydney have four clean sheets in their past five away games and haven't conceded a second-half away goal since March.

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