Pre-Season pain spurs on Mariners

The intense welcome to pre-season training has the Central Coast Mariners eager to turn their training pain into on-field success.

The intense welcome to pre-season training has the Central Coast Mariners eager to turn their training pain into on-field success.

After their first week of a short, but intense five week pre-season, the Mariners will turn their attention to Sydney FC on Monday night, under lights at Leichhardt Oval.

Traditionally a Rugby League venue, Leichhardt has this season established itself as the home of the NSW Premier League side, the Sydney Tigers, who have featured Central Coast Mariners defender David D-Apuzzo in their lineup during a six week loan spell following the conclusion of the Mariners inaugural Asian Champions League campaign.

"I haven-t had much of a break since we finished the Champions League campaign, I-ve been playing in the New south Wales Premier League just to keep fit and get some match time, so playing in the State League has put me in good stead for this pre-season, I-m still finding it hard though!

"Playing here over the last year has sharpened me up and made me realize that if you want to make it to the next level you-ve got to be that one step quicker, and your decision making has to be quicker, so going back there that has come across, and I-ve been able to play some good football in the State League.

"I-ve been staying in Sydney since the Champions League finished, I-m looking for a place up here now, and Leichhardt Oval is actually just five minutes from where I-m living in Sydney, so that-s brilliant for me, it should be a good game.

"I-ve got another game with them this Sunday, it-s my last game, then I-ve got the game with the Mariners on the Monday. A few of the boys have been asking me where our Sydney FC match is, so I hope they-ll turn up.

"The ACL was a bit up and down, because obviously the results didn-t go our way, but the experience, the traveling to Asian countries and experiencing different atmospheres in those countries was amazing, so I think that will put us in good stead for this season, and hopefully we can win it this year, get into the Grand Final and get that trophy," D-Apuzzo said.

The players will now enjoy two days break before re-grouping for Monday-s clash, the weekend well deserved, according to football manager Lawrie McKinna.

"It-s been good. The boys have worked really hard. We-ve had a couple of boys pull out because they-ve picked up little niggles but overall its been a real solid week. Five days, six sessions plus two gym sessions, so eight sessions and the boys deserve the weekend off, and come back for the game on Monday," McKinna said.

The Mariners are expected to be close to full fitness for Monday-s trial, with only Dylan Macallister and Matt Simon unavailable.

"Dylan (Macallister) is fine, but just with physical contact he-s still a couple of weeks away, so he-s still in cotton wool a wee bit, and that-s the first day he-s really joined in fully. Matty (Simon) has been running well, he-s been getting better all week. At the beginning of the week he was still a bit stiff in the knee but as the week-s gone on he-s been getting better and better. Nathan Sherlock is tired, and Shane Huke is just a precaution, he-s at the physio today, so the two of them should be right for the game on Monday night.

"Its A-League opposition, although they-ll have a couple of triallists and young boys in, we-ll have the same. It-s important for us, we-ve had two and a half weeks off, and a had a real tough week back, the boys will freshen up and do their own thing over the weekend, and on Monday, we-ll be looking for a result down there.

"They had a good result last week against the Fury, and beat Sutherland through the week, but we-ll be looking to get a result, before we head off to Canberra during the week for two games down there,” McKinna said.

And while the Mariners squad has been subjected to a baptism of fire upon their return from holiday, strength and conditioning coach Andrew Clark believes the squad has passed with flying colours.

"They haven-t had too long off so they are in pretty good shape. We only have five weeks until the start of the season so there-s a lot of work to be done. It started this week and I think the boys have got through it well. They deserve the weekend off," Clark said.

"It-s good to have such a short pre-season because you are jam packed full of ideas you want to get out there during that five or six week period, and like I said, they are coming back in pretty good shape only having a few weeks off, so all that base work you try to do in a long pre-season you don-t have to do.

"In your pre-season you just want to feel good, and the problem is you don-t feel good for the first few weeks. I think they-re just looking to get through the game, Sydney have been going for a little bit longer than us, and just keep building their fitness over the first couple of weeks.

"Teams are going to be at different levels, because of the amount of time that they have been training, so we have to fit that in as part of our plan. We have to get out of the games what we are aiming to do, and that means everyone getting game time under their belt, and building some sort of shape.

The Mariners will be looking to build on their post-ACL form, which has seen them register back-to-back wins over Queensland State League opponent Logan United, and Hyundai A-League newcomer North Queensland Fury.

Tickets for Monday-s match are on sale now from PROTicket website or by phoning 1300 12 10 12 (booking fees apply).

Tickets cost $10 for Adults, $5 concession, with Under 14-s free.

Mariners Memberships for the 2009/10 Hyundai A-League season are available online by clicking here or by phoning 1300 767 442.