Gumprecht targets October comeback following operation

Central Coast Mariners midfielder Andre Gumprecht has targeted a comeback to competitive action in October following a successful operation to repair a medial ligament tear to his left knee, sustained in the Mariners’ 2-1 Pre-Season Cup triumph over the Queensland Roar.

Central Coast Mariners midfielder Andre Gumprecht has targeted a comeback to competitive action in October following a successful operation to repair a medial ligament tear to his left knee, sustained in the Mariners- 2-1 Pre-Season Cup triumph over the Queensland Roar at Perry Park two weeks ago.

Gumprecht sustained the injury after a challenge early in the second half of the Mariners- victory over their Queensland rivals, before completing the remainder of the match.

As a result of this latest setback, Gumprecht is now set for a minimum six-week stint on the sidelines, with the 32-year-old targeting the Mariners- Hyundai A-League fixtures in October for a comeback from his second serious injury while with the Mariners.

"It-s obviously a devastating blow for me to be ruled out for such a large part of the season before we-ve even started, but I-m very determined to return from this setback fitter and stronger than ever so that I can hopefully play a significant part in our season," said Gumprecht.

"The surgeon tells me that the operation was very successful and that I should be fine to start light training in six weeks, at which point I-ll be working day in day out to regain my place in the Mariners starting side."

Aside from Gumprecht-s long-term injury concern, the Mariners continue to work behind the scenes to nurse Paul O-Grady and Greg Owens back to full fitness, with both having missed the entirety of the Mariners- pre-season with achilles and hamstring concerns respectively.

O-Grady is now on the cusp of a return to full training, while Owens will resume full training with his team-mates within the next month, with a view to becoming eligible for selection by mid-September.

The Mariners are also sweating on the fitness of three key players for Friday-s Hyundai A-League opener away to the Newcastle Jets, with Nigel Boogaard, Dean Heffernan and Mile Jedinak each struggling to overcome minor injuries that have curtailed their progress in recent weeks.

Boogaard was withdrawn from the Mariners- Pre-Season Cup fixture at Perry Park two weeks ago with a groin injury, which was initially feared to be serious enough to warrant an overnight stay in hospital.

However, upon further examination, Boogaard-s injury was found to be not as serious as first feared, though the Qantas Under 23-s squad member will continue to be monitored closely in the coming days.

Heffernan continues to make progress from his long-term injury, which was sustained when the Qantas Socceroo prospect broke his tibia in the closing stages of Mariners- heartbreaking 5-4 defeat at the hands of Sydney FC at Bluetongue Stadium in December of last year.

Jedinak has not played since reporting a groin strain after the Mariners- 2-1 loss to the New Zealand Under 23-s at Knox Grammar School in mid-July, but has recommenced light training in a bid to be front and centre for the Mariners- keenly anticipated Round 1 date away to their 2008 Hyundai A-League Grand Final adversaries.

"We have a few lingering injury concerns at present, but I-m confident with the depth that we have at our disposal that no matter what the team is that we put on the park for Round 1 that it will be a team capable of coming away with three points," said Mariners Football Manager Lawrie McKinna.

"Never in our history have we had a clean slate with injuries and it would be unrealistic of us to expect to go through the entire campaign without suffering the odd injury setback and the character that we gain from overcoming this type of adversity is what shapes us as a team and as a club.

"We-ll continue to monitor the progress of Boogaard, Heffernan and Jedinak throughout the week and, fingers crossed, we-ll have all three available for Round 1, but I-m certain that we have the right players to do the job required in any case.

"We will also do all that we can to get Gumprecht back on the pitch as soon as possible, it-s never easy for players to bounce back from long-term injury, but I have no doubts that with Andre-s work ethic and ambitions to achieve in season four, we-ll see him back in action as soon as is humanly possible."

The Mariners- fourth Hyundai A-League season kicks off against northern rivals the Newcastle Jets at EnergyAustralia Stadium this Friday, 15 August. Kick off is at 8pm.

The Mariners will return to their Bluetongue Stadium home the following round, where they will host southern rivals Sydney FC in a Round 2 blockbuster on Saturday, 23 August. Kick off is at 7pm.

Tickets for this match are on sale now from all Ticketek outlets, from the Ticketek website - www.ticketek.com.au or via phone on 132 849.

Prior to their opening home match of the Hyundai A-League 2008/09 campaign, the Mariners will be holding a Fan Day at Bluetongue Stadium this Sunday, 17 August from 11am to 1pm.

There will be rides for children, live entertainment, face painting, prize giveaways, plus an opportunity to meet with the Mariners- season four squad.

Mariners Memberships for the Hyundai A-League 2008/09 season are now on sale at www.ccmariners.com.au.