Neil Kilkenny can heap more pain on City

Perth's Neil Kilkenny returns for another A-League grudge match against former club Melbourne City.
Perth's Neil Kilkenny returns for another A-League grudge match against former club Melbourne City.

Perth Glory midfielder Neil Kilkenny has the chance to heap more pain on his former boss when he returns for Saturday night's A-League clash with Melbourne City.

Kilkenny fell out with City coach Warren Joyce early last season, with the star playmaker left out in the cold before making a mid-season move to Glory.

The 33-year-old immediately flourished in Perth, and has taken his game to another level this season to help lift Glory to the top of the table.

There's definitely no love lost between Kilkenny and Joyce, and it's the Glory veteran who has taken the early points.

In two games between the sides since Kilkenny's switch, Glory have won both times.

But this match will be the first encounter in Melbourne, with City hell bent to bounce back following Wednesday's shock 2-1 loss to last-placed Central Coast.

Glory coach Tony Popovic praised the influence and maturity of Kilkenny.

"He conducted himself very well and professionally in our previous encounter (against City), and I'd expect the same," Popovic said.

"He's been playing very well. I believe getting better with every game.

"He leads by example at training and in games. He's enjoying that responsibility."

Kilkenny was rested from last Sunday's dramatic 4-3 win over Western Sydney.

Glory looked out of sorts without Kilkenny marshalling the midfield, and it wasn't until Diego Castro was thrown into the fray after half-time that Perth regained its mojo.

Popovic has promised to unleash a full-strength side against City at AAMI Park.

It means Kilkenny, Matthew Spiranovic, Castro, and Jason Davidson are all chances to slot back into the starting line-up following Popovic's recent rotations.

City will be bolstered by the return of Harrison Delbridge (suspension) and Dario Vidosic.

Joyce's men sit nine points adrift of Glory following their slip-up against the Mariners, and Popovic is bracing his side for a backlash.

"I think you always get a reaction from good teams, and I believe they are a very good team," Popovic said.

"They are very strong at home. They've dominated many games in Melbourne, and we have to be prepared for a real tough match."

STATS THAT MATTER

*Melbourne City are winless in their past four A-League games against Perth Glory at AAMI Park (D1, L3)

*Perth Glory have won four straight A-League games. The last time they won more was a club-record equalling five straight wins between March-April 2016.

*Glory midfielder Neil Kilkenny has a passing accuracy of 65 per cent on long passes this season, the highest of any player to have attempted at least 50 long passes.

Australian Associated Press