Mrdja fit, firing and bound for Finals Series

Central Coast Mariners striker Nik Mrdja has put his exhaustive injury troubles behind him to underline his value to the yellow and navy’s Hyundai A-League Finals Series charge in recent weeks, and Mariners Members and supporters can expect more of the same in the near future.

Central Coast Mariners striker Nik Mrdja has put his exhaustive injury troubles behind him to underline his value to the yellow and navy-s Hyundai A-League Finals Series charge in recent weeks, and Mariners Members and supporters can expect more of the same in the near future.

Capped for his country at Qantas Socceroo level, Mrdja has long been regarded as one of Australia-s finest marksmen, but has been unable to adequately demonstrate his ability in four Hyundai A-League seasons due to a litany of long-term injury concerns.

The main issue has been a rare condition that affected Mrdja-s right knee - a problem that looks to have been solved by virtue of a meticulous recovery program following the 30-year-old-s most recent operation in late 2007.

Nowadays, Mrdja is feeling the ‘best that he has felt- and his three performances from the starting whistle in the past month would suggest that he means business.

Adelaide United are next in line to face a player that is potentially the most lethal in the Hyundai A-League, but for the moment Mrdja is contented with the small steps required to make him a regular contributor to the Mariners- quest for silverware.

"It-s been a building thing for me and I-m slowly progressing but as long as I am progressing, that-s the main thing," said Mrdja.

"I feel as though my fitness is getting better and better and I definitely feel the best that I-ve felt after the weekend - it would have been nice to pinch a goal there, but I-m happy with where I-m at."

Having rediscovered his goal scoring touch at Bluetongue Stadium against the Queensland Roar a fortnight ago, Mrdja has targeted more Hyundai A-League goals against Adelaide at the Mariners- picturesque bay side home on Sunday.

Mrdja-s fifth minute strike against the Roar was his second of season four and his fifth in the Hyundai A-League - also his first at Bluetongue Stadium since August 2007, when Mrdja last found the back of the net against the Wellington Phoenix in Round 2 of season three.

It was against Sunday-s opponents, Adelaide, that Mrdja first underlined his potential value to the yellow and navy with a hat trick against the Reds in the semi final of May 2005-s Club World Championship qualifying series at Bluetongue Stadium.

What has happened since is now history; though it is a new history that Mrdja is now determined to create, one that he hopes will be highlighted by a yellow and navy representation in the 2009 Hyundai A-League Finals Series.

"My knee is feeling better than it ever has, especially after the games where I feel as though I can back up with training straight away, touch wood it stays like that," said Mrdja.

"It-s good to be getting involved at this stage of the season, it would have been nice to have been involved earlier, but the main thing is that the team gets to the Finals Series and we progress from there."

The Mariners will be back at their Bluetongue Stadium home on Sunday, 25 January to host AFC Champions League finalists Adelaide United in the final regular season round of the Hyundai A-League 2008/09 campaign. 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.