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Canberra United head west to play Perth Glory as W-League championship underdogs

It's a case of deja vu for Canberra United - crossing the Nullarbor as "huge underdogs" to claim the W-League title.

They're confident they can beat Melbourne City in a finals showdown and United coach Rae Dower says she has "one of the most dangerous players in the league" in striker Ashleigh Sykes.

City has wrapped up the minor premiership with three rounds remaining before the finals, but Sykes said the W-League was at a point where every team believed they could beat any other team on any given day.

While any potential grand-final showdown with City is still four weeks away, Canberra headed west to play Perth Glory in Perth about a year after they made the same trip to claim their second W-League title.

Just as an unbeaten Melbourne were runaway leaders this season, Glory were equally dominant last summer when United took them on in Perth in the grand final.

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Canberra triumphed 3-1, with Sykes scoring the two winning goals in the second half.

She said no team was unbeatable in the W-League any more.

"I think the W-League's gotten to a stage where most teams would go into a game thinking they have a chance to knock the other team off," Sykes said.

"Especially this year, apart from Melbourne City it's been really close. Almost every team would be thinking on any given day they can win the match."

Dower said even though Perth were second-last on the W-League ladder, they would be motivated by United's grand final victory last season.

She said "absolutely" last year's grand final victory proved Canberra could produce in the big games, but they were just looking to sew up a home semi-final by beating Perth.

Sykes could be one of Canberra's keys to bringing that about.

The 24-year-old was Canberra's equal top goal scorer with Michelle Heyman with five and she has scored four goals in her last four games.

She was also named the Professional Footballers Australia W-League player of the month for November.

"Ash is absolutely on fire. She's playing with a lot of confidence, she's worked out little aspects of her game she felt she needed to improve on and she's done that," Dower said.

"I'd go as far to say she's probably one of the most dangerous players in the league at the moment and one of the most in-form players in the league, which was recognised by her peers last month with the PFA award.

"She prepares very, very well. She trains very, very well. She's the supreme professional athlete."

United have been bolstered by the return of captain Nicole Begg (back) from injury.

She missed Canberra's 3-0 win over Melbourne Victory, which was the first game she had missed since 2010.

Perth has a forecast maximum of 37 degrees for Saturday and Dower said there was the possibility the start time could get pushed back as a result.

W-LEAGUE ROUND 12

Saturday: Canberra United v Perth Glory in Perth, 7pm.

Canberra squad: 1. Lydia Williams (gk), 3. Julia De Angelis, 4. Kendall Fletcher, 5. Jenna McCormick, 6. Caitlin Munoz, 7. Ellie Brush, 8. Meg McLaughlin, 11. Michelle Heyman, 12. Emma Kete, 13. Nicole Begg (c), 14. Ashleigh Sykes, 15. Emma Checker, 16. Tegan Riding, 17. Veronica Perez, 18. Rebecca Kiting, 20. Melissa Maizels (gk).

Perth squad: 1. Mackenzie Arnold (gk), 3. Kim Carroll (c), 4. Katie Holtham, 5. Shannon May, 6. Carla Bennett, 7. Nicole Stanton, 8. Shawn Billam, 9. Caitlin Foord, 11. Emily Henderson, 13. Danielle Brogan, 14. Caitlin Doeglas, 16. Thia Eastman, 18. Gabrielle Dal Busco (gk), 19. Ella Mastrantonio 23. Vanessa DiBernardo.

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