Brisbane Roar midfielder Mitch Nichols believes he and his team-mates have stepped up a gear in training as the upcoming showdown with reigning Hyundai A-League champion Sydney FC looms on the horizon.
Starting the season with an encouraging performance against Gold Coast United, Brisbane provided a glimpse of things to come with an attacking display at Skilled Park.
But with Vitezslav Lavicka bringing his Sydney troops to Suncorp Stadium for the only time in the regular season, attitudes and performances have skyrocketed at the Roar-s Ballymore training complex.
“You can really see at training that we have stepped up a level,” Nichols said.
“Everyone was pretty happy with the performance but we all know we can improve and there are a few areas to improve on.
“But if we just keeping getting better, things will fall into place.”
Despite the good performance against United, next up for Brisbane is a champion team which last season secured both the minor premiership and the grand final.
But Brisbane head into the clash with a great home record against Sydney, the visitors enduring a barren spell at Suncorp Stadium stretching back to round five of the 2007/08 season.
However, Nichols maintained the Roar would need to be on their guard against a team which opened its Hyundai A-League 2010/11 account with an entertaining 3-3 against Melbourne Victory.
“Sydney is going to be another hard game and we really have to be on the ball,” he said.
“We-ve had the wood over them the last couple of times we played them when they-ve travelled up here, but you can never read too much into the last few games.
“I think if we produce another good performance and step it up, we can give them a good run and come away with the result.”
A first half substitution for Massimo Murdocca in the M1 Derby, Nichols was a busy threat against United, linking well with Brisbane-s forward line.
And the 21-year-old said he hoped his performance on the glitter strip had pushed his case for a regular starting berth.
“I thought I did alright … but it was really disappointing to see Massimo get injured,” Nichols said.
“I think I came in and the team kept playing well and I think I did a good job.
“I always want to be playing … and hopefully I can now push for a starting spot.”
Brisbane Roar-s first home game against Sydney FC kicks off at 7.30pm on August 21 at Suncorp Stadium. Tickets are available through Ticketek, click here for details.