Perth Glory will be without skipper Diego Castro for Friday night's blockbuster against Sydney FC, but defender Matthew Spiranovic is a sneaky chance to return.
Castro missed last week's 2-0 A-League win over Newcastle after experiencing hamstring tightness at training in the lead up to the game.
The 36-year-old missed the first four rounds of the season after injuring his other hamstring, but his latest setback isn't as serious.
Coach Tony Popovic is confident Castro will be fit to return for the December 31 clash with Central Coast, which comes 10 days after the match against Sydney FC.
"He trained yesterday and Monday, and he did very well," Popovic said.
"I think he could have been right for this week. It would have been touch and go.
"I don't think he could have started, but off the bench he would have been OK. But we don't feel there's a need to risk him at this stage."
Spiranovic lasted just 31 minutes in his Glory debut before limping off with a hamstring niggle in the 1-0 win over Melbourne City a fortnight ago.
The 30-year-old, who had only just returned from a year-long hip injury, will be assessed again at training on Thursday before a final call is made on his availability.
"The injury he's had and the length of time he's been out, it will always be a risk to a certain degree," Popovic said.
"As long as it's calculated and we feel we've controlled everything we can, then we'll put him in when we feel he's ready."
Glory sit two points clear of Melbourne Victory on top of the table following their stunning start to the season.
Third-placed Sydney FC trail Perth by six points.
In a fixturing quirk, Glory will host Sydney FC two times within the space of 20 days.
Wins in both of those matches will go a long way towards securing a prized top-two berth for Glory.