Four months out from the beginning of the Hyundai A-League season, the pieces are beginning to fall into place in the eyes of the Brisbane Roar coaching staff.
Having three players recovering from injury and four in camp with the Qantas Olyroos has not hindered the preparations around Ballymore Stadium and Head Coach Ange Postecoglou knows the day he has his full squad at training is not too far off on the horizon.
Last week, the Brisbane Roar squad welcomed back Qantas Socceroo Matt McKay and All White Kosta Barbarouses from international duty and yesterday, midfielder Massimo Murdocca hit the training field for the first time in three weeks following his honeymoon in the Maldives.
With Andrew Redmayne, Matthew Jurman, Mitch Nichols and Rocky Visconte set to return to Brisbane after next week-s two-legged 2012 Olympic Games Asian qualifiers against Yemen, all signs are positive heading into the busy stage of the squad-s pre-season campaign.
Grand final heroes Henrique (quad) and Erik Paartalu (ankle ligament) are expected to rejoin the squad in two weeks with Brisbane Roar Head Physiotherapist Tim Oostenbroek keeping a close eye on the duo as they work to overcome their injuries.
“Henrique started running yesterday and we-ll start to build his training load and match fitness over the next month,” he said.
“We-ll take a conservative approach to his rehabilitation but he-ll certainly have rejoined the squad by early July.
“With Erik, it was just one of those freak accidents at training, it was very unlucky – just one of those silly things that wouldn-t happen 99 times out of 100.
“He-s ticking all the right boxes, he-s one of those players that as a physiotherapist you can-t ask any more of.
“He does everything by the book, everything I-ve asked of him and he-ll be back about the same time.”
However, defender Ivan Franjic won-t return to full squad training for six weeks after suffering a hamstring tear in Sunday-s 1-1 draw with Queensland State League side Sunshine Coast Fire.
“Unfortunately, Ivan has been plagued with a little bit of an injury curse last season but this is a new injury to his left hamstring, it-s a decent 10 centimetre tear,” Oostenbroek said.
“However, it will heal and it will heal well.
“We-ll just have to be careful with him in terms of how much we ask him to do once he-s back into the squad to make sure he-s ready.”
Brisbane Roar has already played three pre-season training games and will take on Brisbane Premier League sides Eastern Suburbs and Brisbane Olympic on the June 22 and 29 respectively.
With an Ipswich Invitational match and Rochedale Rovers lined up for July and Wynnum Wolves and Brisbane Strikers the following month, Oostenbroek highlighted the importance of the training matches in assembling a fully-fit and firing squad for the start of the season.
He also said the matches were particularly important for the recently-recovered players on the comeback trail.
“We take the view with the pre-season games to build the load fairly gradually for the players,” he said.
“The first two games we only played 35 minute halves but really, in the first game we really didn-t want the players playing more than 45 minutes, second game we built that to about 60 minutes and against Sunshine Coast, 70-75 minutes for the majority of the squad.
“It-s not probably until after July that we-ll be asking or demanding 90 minutes from the training group and that-s purely not to put them in a high risk situation too early.
“We-ve got a long pre-season and we don-t want to be asking the players to be playing 90 minutes week in and week out when we-re still four months out from the season.”