Alex Grant has become a mainstay of Perth Glory defence in the A-League this season.Perth Glory’s defenders are on edge and that’s a good thing according to Alex Grant.
The arrival of coach Tony Popovic and a host of stars have reinvigorated Glory, who sit atop the A-League standings with three wins and a draw from the opening four rounds.
Glory leaked an average of 1.85 goals per game last season but have cut that figure down to one goal this campaign.
Popovic’s back-three system that is complemented by two wing backs has worked a treat, and Grant has played a key role in the heart of defence alongside Shane Lowry and Tomislav Mrcela.
But with former Socceroos defender Matthew Spiranovic nearing a return from a long-term hip injury, Grant knows he can’t take his spot in the side for granted.
“Matt is a great player. He’s got the experience playing with the Socceroos,” Grant said.
“It’s good to have him waiting in the wings.
“It’s good having that competition there. We’ve got five centre backs fighting for three spots. And it’s good, it’s healthy.”
Spiranovic, who has missed the best part of an entire year, could make his return in Sunday’s clash with Central Coast at nib Stadium.
Mrcela is available after serving his one-match suspension, meaning veteran Dino Djulbic could be forced to make way despite performing strongly in the 2-0 win over Adelaide.
Skipper Diego Castro, who hasn’t played since injuring his hamstring during the pre-season, is also in the selection mix.
The Spaniard has taken the league by storm over the past three seasons playing as an attacking midfielder but he will have to be more defensive-minded under Popovic.
“You’ll probably see a different side to Diego where he’s not doing as much of a free role as he did under Kenny (Lowe),” Grant said.
“He’ll have to maybe defend a little more.
“But knowing Diego and how professional he is, he’s more than capable of doing that and still chipping in with goals and assists.”
The Mariners, who were beaten 4-1 by Melbourne Victory in their most recent game, prop up the ladder with just two points.