Heffernan's hand is up

Central Coast Mariners defender Dean Heffernan has put his hand up for selection for tomorrow’s keenly anticipated Hyundai A-League blockbuster between the Mariners and Sydney FC at Bluetongue Stadium.

Central Coast Mariners defender Dean Heffernan has put his hand up for selection for tomorrow-s keenly anticipated Hyundai A-League blockbuster between the Mariners and Sydney FC at Bluetongue Stadium.

Heffernan has been a spectator for all of the Mariners- fourth Hyundai A-League campaign due to his recovery from a broken leg, which he suffered in last year-s holiday season clash against the sky blues at Bluetongue Stadium.

Although he made an appearance against the Wellington Phoenix in the opening round of the 2008 Pre-Season Cup, Heffernan has since been watching from the sidelines, only to return to the pitch in Perth a fortnight ago in the National Youth League (NYL).

Another NYL start for Heffernan against the Queensland Roar last Saturday was the clearest indication yet that the Mariners- inaugural season standout is ready to resume his Hyundai A-League career, which has already established the fringe Qantas Socceroo as a firm favourite amongst the Bluetongue Stadium faithful.

"After the NYL game against Queensland I felt pretty good, it was really good mentally and physically to get through ninety minutes unscathed," said Heffernan.

"It-s been a full twelve months out of the game now, basically, I went back into plaster, which was the best thing I-ve done rehab wise, my leg feels really good now, I-ve been training solidly for four weeks, I-ve played the last two NYL games and I-m feeling really good."

Heffernan has been a notable omission from the Mariners- Hyundai A-League 2008/09 campaign to date - his return to fitness providing Mariners Football Manager Lawrie McKinna with a welcome selection headache in defence.

Although Heffernan has been utilised up front in the NYL, it is expected that the former 1. FC Nürnberg flyer will join the likes of Pedj Bojic and Alex Wilkinson along the last line.

When Heffernan first returned to the Central Coast after one year in Germany-s Bundesliga, the Mariners kept five clean sheets to begin their season three campaign - Heffernan-s contribution alongside current team-mates Boogaard, Clark and Wilkinson particularly telling.

With Boogaard facing a lengthy stint on the sidelines due to an ankle injury, the time is right for Heffernan to push his claims for a starting eleven berth and it-s little surprise that the player has set his sights on Saturday-s clash to present his case.

"I-m definitely putting my hand up," said Heffernan.

"I feel as though I can contribute something to the team at the moment and if they need me, I-m ready, if not, it-s another week in the National Youth League.

"When we play against Sydney and when they play against us, both teams seem to lift, both teams play attacking type football and it-s always entertaining.

"That-s what the fans like and I-m sure they-ll be there this Saturday to see the same sort of game."

The Mariners- Hyundai A-League season continues at their Bluetongue Stadium home on Saturday, 13 December against southern rivals Sydney FC. Kick off is at 7pm.

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