Heat on A-L refs to give Fornaroli a break

Irate Perth Glory coach Tony Popovic has spoken about at the lack of protection A-League referees have given star striker Bruno Fornaroli this season.

BRUNO FORNAROLI.
BRUNO FORNAROLI. Picture: Matt King/Getty Images

Bruno Fornaroli's free-kick count will be an intriguing subplot when Perth Glory hosts Wellington Phoenix at HBF Park on Friday night.

Glory coach Tony Popovic is angry at the lack of protection referees have afforded Fornaroli in recent weeks, with the issue coming to the fore in last Saturday's 2-2 draw with Melbourne Victory.

Fornaroli was bundled over numerous times in that match without earning a free kick.

Perth Glory have since approached the referees department to seek clarification on the recent lack of free kicks handed to Fornaroli.

"We approached them about a few issues, a few ideas and thoughts that we had, and we'll see," Popovic said.

"I didn't speak to them personally. But the response is they will look into their referees and assess the referees accordingly."

Skipper Diego Castro is no certainty to return on Friday night as the club carefully nurses him back to full health following a recent knock, while Chris Ikonomidis (knee) will miss the rest of the season.

But defender Osama Malik has been included in the squad and could make his first appearance since injuring his hamstring in round four.

Wellington welcome back midfielder Matti Steinmann (suspension) and Reno Piscopo (Olyroos duty).

The fourth-placed Phoenix are one of the form teams in the competition after winning four of their past five games.

But they face an uphill battle to beat a Glory outfit in the midst of an eight-match unbeaten run.

Popovic wasn't happy with his team's defensive lapses last week, and goalkeeper Liam Reddy says it's something the group have addressed at training.

"Defensively we got punished for switching off," Reddy said.

"Wellington will play a similar brand of football (to Victory), so we have to make sure we switch on against them."

STATS THAT MATTER

*Wellington's Ulises Davila has taken 45 shots this season - the equal most in the league along with Sydney's Adam Le Fondre.

*Glory skipper Diego Castro has six assists this season - the most in the league.

*Perth have conceded just 14 goals this season and Wellington only 18 - ranking them second and third in the league respectively.


AAP