Popovic prepared for Castro’s exit

PERTH coach Tony Popovic says Diego Castro’s decision to end his season prematurely was no surprise and can’t guarantee the Spanish maestro will ever return to the Glory.

The club announced on Tuesday that Glory captain Castro would not go to the NSW hub to complete the season with his teammates due to COVID-19 health fears.

Popovic said 38-year-old Castro’s “personal decision” was anything but a shock.

“For me, the last month, I’ve known he won’t be playing, so we’ve trained for a month and we’re ready to go,” the Glory mentor said.

“Every single player and every staff member had that same option. Diego chose that and we respect it, and we’ve moved forward.”

Perth Glory coach Tony Popovic (left) and Diego Castro.. Picture: AAP Image/Tony McDonoughSource:AAP

Popovic said Castro’s withdrawal would lead to a chance for someone else.

Diego’s been and probably is one of the best players in the A-League so in terms of his quality it’s hard to just replace that single player, but what it does … it creates opportunity,” he said.

Castro has another year on his Glory deal but Popovic would not guarantee the playmaker’s return due to the changing face of the competition, including the likelihood of a reduced salary cap.

“There are a whole range of issues to look at,” Popovic said.

The Glory resume their campaign on Saturday against the Central Coast Mariners in Gosford, but it’s unlikely Popovic will call on attacker Nick D’Agostino, with the Perth coach disappointed with the Olyroos’ hero’s condition on his return to training last month.

“The way the players have presented and come back, certain players are ahead of others, and that happens,” Popovic said.

It’s been a good lesson for some of our younger players. A few of the younger ones who have got talent need to learn how to be better professionals.

“We talk a lot about Nick D’Agostino but he needs to know if he wants to be the best, he needs to present as the best and he hasn’t done that so far.

“That’s a player that’s going to find it difficult to play.

“I don’t care what code it is. You can’t perform at your best unless you present in the right way.

“Talent alone is not enough, and a few of these boys have had a harsh lesson.”

Originally published asPopovic prepared for Castro’s exit

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