Early Isa return on the cards

Isa Halim is back in light training with LionsXII, might return to first team action ahead of schedule.

The LionsXII captain was previously thought to be out of action until the Malaysia Cup but is currently a month ahead of schedule and will resume full training pending the results of a fitness test on Monday.

This comes as good news for the Malaysian Super League (MSL) team, which has recently lost Hafiz Sujad (out for season, shoulder), Khairul Nizam (6 weeks, meniscus) and vice-captain Safuwan Baharudin (knee, extent unknown) to injuries, while Zulfahmi Arifin (groin) has been playing through the pain barrier.

The Singapore international, who underwent a surgery in March to fix his heel spur, was back out on the training pitch at ITE Central on Friday and looked sharp when participating in passing and shooting drills before training was cut short by inclement weather.

However, the midfield hard man is still not cleared for full training yet.

“They (Medical Team) advised me to do only light training because I still have yet to go for a bio lab test which can measure the strength of my ankle,” Isa told FourFourTwo after training.

“It’s scheduled on Monday, and the following couple of days I will be doing the test before I will go have a clearance with the doctor on whether I’m fit to play.

“After that test I will do a fitness test as well to measure where my fitness level is before I can start full training.

"But overall, I started a kick about with an Under 18 team and I felt a bit rusty but there was no pain and that is a good sign.

“I’m looking forward to be back as soon as possible when I get medically cleared.”

Capped 53 times by Singapore, Isa has been an indispensable part of the LionsXII team since its inception in 2012 and was named captain at the start of this season.

The midfielder's aggressive patrolling in the midfield engine room has no doubt been sorely missed, and he hopes his return can boost the team and help him gain some form before the commencement of the Malaysia Cup.

“It’s a great achievement personally that I came back one month ahead of schedule,” he said.

“To be able to help the team in the remaining five games, I hope that I can do something to push them on and achieve the target that we already set before the start of the season.

“Personally it has not been a great ride this year, [with regards to] my own performances and the team itself.

"We have yet to have a stranglehold on a game throughout 90 minutes and even though we are leading, somehow we will struggle in the last 15 minutes.

“I hope that when I return things won’t go wrong and with Bai (Baihakki) coming back we want to keep this momentum going and push on for the Malaysia Cup.”

Isa does have one eye on selection to the national team though, with the AFF Suzuki Cup competition looming on the horizon.

“I scheduled the operation earlier because the pain is unbearable, and also the target for me is to be chosen for the Suzuki Cup," he said.

“I have five games remaining (in the MSL), and of course the Malaysia Cup; hopefully we go far and eventually win the Malaysia Cup and have the national selectors select me for Suzuki Cup action.”