Perth Glory coach Tony Popovic is optimistic Matthew Spiranovic has escaped serious injury despite the defender limping off in the 1-0 win over Melbourne City at nib Stadium.
Spiranovic, who had missed a year of action because of a serious hip injury, was surprisingly named in the starting line-up on Saturday night after playing just two youth games on limited minutes.
The 30-year-old lasted just 31 minutes in his senior Glory debut before going off injured. Popovic said early indications were that Spiranovic had injured his hamstring rather than doing damage to his dreaded hip.
"He felt a bit tight and didn't want to push any further. I believe it was hamstring," Popovic said. "It's certainly not his previous injury. We're hopeful it's nothing serious. He's probably a bit down that he didn't get through the game, but I'm sure he's delighted the team won."
Chris Ikonomidis' first-half strike was enough to seal the win for Perth in front of 8489 fans.
City were reduced to 10 men in the 80th minute when Curtis Good was booked a second time.Good's second yellow card came in controversial fashion. The 25-year-old was trying to keep the ball in with a sliding effort, but took down Ivan Franjic in the process.
Perth's win extended the club's unbeaten run to seven games, keeping them two points clear of Melbourne Victory. Importantly, they have now opened up a six-point gap on Sydney FC, who suffered a shock 3-1 loss to Wellington Phoenix. Fifth-placed City (10 points) are now seven points adrift of Perth.
Popovic sprung a major surprise by naming both Diego Castro and Spiranovic in the starting line-up. Castro performed well before being subbed off in the 85th minute.
Melbourne City coach Warren Joyce left star attacker Bruno Fornaroli out of the side for a third straight match, citing the Uruguayan's lack of commitment to training. City also entered the match without injured Belgian defender Ritchie De Laet.
Chances were few and far between in the first half, but Ikonomidis broke the deadlock in the 43rd minute when he made the most of Andy Keogh's deflected shot to slot home the opener.
Ikonomidis now has five goals for the season, boosting his chances of earning a Socceroos recall in time for the Asian Cup.
"I thought we were on the front foot all night," said Joyce, who felt his team should have come away with at least a draw. "Certainly in the first 35 minutes we looked like the dominant team. At times the execution and decision making around the box could have been better, and if it was, it would have led to goals."