Sydney FC is set for a boost with versatile defender Rhyan Grant expected to return to the team in a matter of weeks.
The 23-year-old ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament contesting a tackle in last season’s round three home clash against Western Sydney Wanderers.
Now almost a year after the season-ending setback, Grant has set his sights on cementing a spot in Graham Arnold’s starting XI.
“It’s been 11 and a half months now but I’ve been training fully with the team for the last couple of weeks so it’s up to the coaching staff to throw me in,” Grant told FourFourTwo.
“I’ve been given the all clear so I’ll be raring to go hopefully in the next two to three weeks.
“I’m feeling really fit and Andrew Clark (head of strength and conditioning) has looked after me for the past couple months. I’m in shape and looking good.
“I want to get back playing and break myself into the team.
“To get back into the team would be a great achievement personally, seeing as though I’ve been out for almost a year – I’m just concentrating on that.”
The Sky Blues scraped into the finals series last term – defying the odds with a fifth-place finish before eventually losing to Melbourne Victory in the first elimination final.
It was a season marred by off-field dramas, most notably then-coach Frank Farina’s banishment of Nick Carle as well as the disenchantment in the stands, with fans publicly calling for Farina’s resignation.
Grant, however, remains grateful for the impact the 50-year-old tactician had on his career.
“I got along well with Farina and to be fair, I had my breakout season when he was still coach so I’m grateful for his support – he helped me a lot,” the defender said.
“Arnie’s in there now, he has the whole team’s support and we seem to be playing well and hopefully we can continue to do that – get a few wins, surprise a few people and go all the way.
“He’s very controlled when it comes to structure and philosophy, he has a plan and all the players know what he wants to do. In that way, he’s very good. Off the field, he made some changes and united the squad after a few dramas last season.”
Grant added that Arnold was something of a “father figure” to the players.
After a promising start to their 2014/15 campaign, the Sky Blues are sitting equal on points with league leaders Melbourne Victory and Grant believes the team will settle for nothing less than an A-League championship.
“We’d be lying if we said we didn’t want to win the A-league,” he said.
“Over the past few years, you’ve seen anyone can win on their day so it’s all about consistency and the depth of our squad will allow us to achieve that.
“Arnie has set some goals for the team and one of them is to make our home ground a fortress – not to let visiting teams get an easy win.
“Our facilities have also improved at our home base out at Macquarie University – we have our own gym, change rooms, physio set-up. Let’s hope that these changes will help us towards a successful season.”