Smeltz key weapon

INJURY-hit Gold Coast United will rely heavily on star striker Shane Smeltz to make finishing third on the A-League table a reality and not a pipe-dream.

Miron Bleiberg’s side take on Central Coast Mariners at Skilled Park tonight without influential skipper Jason Culina (knee) and top goalscorer Bruce Djite (hamstring).

Their absence means more responsibility rests on Smeltz, the A-League’s two-time Golden Boot winner, to lead the attack against the second-placed Mariners.

Smeltz is yet to taste defeat in the seven games he’s played since returning to the club last month following an ill-fated spell in Turkey.

Despite failing to make an impression at Genclerbirligi, the New Zealand international has not lost his goal-scoring knack in the A-League, finding the net six times.

A win over the Mariners will allow United to move above Adelaide United and into third place, with just one game to play.

Bleiberg said finishing second may be a mathematical possibility but finishing third was in their own hands.

“The calculation is very simple – third place is in our hands,” the Israeli said.

“If we can win our next two games, we will finish at least third.

“Even teams who can’t improve their position on the ladder will want to end the season on a high so they can take that form into the finals.”

United are also missing Joel Porter (calf), Bas van den Brink (ankle), John Curtis (shoulder), Robson (hamstring) and James Brown (ankle).

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