Sydney FC manager Ian Crook is not concerned by the prospect of Perth Glory's ferocious midfield taking the sparkle out of Alessandro Del Piero's magic start to the A-League season.
A grand finalist last year, Glory has a reputation as one of the competition's most physical teams and will no doubt be set the task of reining in the outstanding Italian in Sunday's clash at ANZ Stadium.
Del Piero's impact on the field has been almost as impressive as his work off it - with the former Juventus star scoring twice and starring in each of his three outings for the Sky Blues.
But Crook, who said Glory has made great improvements in its passing game this season, said his 37-year-old striker would be up to anything Perth threw at him.
"(Del Piero) is a world class player. He's played against players all over the world that try different things against him," Crook said on Friday.
"And he finds a way to do things. It's going to be another challenge for him on the weekend.
"... He's special.
"You've already seen in the three games he's played for us in what he can offer our game here as a whole.
"I'm sure again on the weekend there'll be something he does which excites the crowd."
Crook praised Perth's hard-nosed style but said it had also found a softer touch this year that had caught his eye.
"A lot of people have said to me that Perth are physical," he said.
"And yes they are, but I think that's being a little bit detrimental to them.
"Towards the end of last year and certainly what I've seen of them this year they've started to pass the ball around.
"(Liam) Miller's a good player, an exceptionally good player.
"I've worked with Travis Dodd, the likes of them, and they're good technically.
"Same with Jammer (Scott Jamieson). Yes they're physical but they've got a real good balance to their whole side."
Sydney will likely line up with another makeshift back four, with key left-back Fabio (thigh) to be given until Saturday to prove his fitness while Ryan Griffiths (hamstring) and Pascal Bosschaart (back) have been ruled out.
Perth has its own injury concerns, with star striker Shane Smeltz again ruled out with a hamstring injury.
Crook admitted it was frustrating not being able get any consistency in his line-up, but said Fabio's likely replacement, Daniel Petkovski, had done a good job after coming on in last week's victory over Western Sydney.
"I don't think we've put the same team on the park for the three games already," Crook said.
"We were hoping to do that this weekend. And we'll see, we might still have that opportunity with Fab.
"It's frustrating but then we've got to trust the people that come in to do a good job for us.
"... We've got a couple of options that we can maybe look at there.
"Obviously if Fab's no good then Daniel is in the box seat at the moment."
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