Around the grounds: Müller's return confirmed as Robinson trials ex-Bundesliga defender

German forward Nicolai Müller will return for a second season at Western Sydney Wanderers and new head coach Carl Robinson is casting an eye on an ex-Bundesliga defender. 

Müller played 19 A-League matches and scored five goals after signing from Eintracht Frankfurt as an injury replacement for ACL victim Radi Majewski, but his debut season was curtailed following a sickening head clash with Wellington Phoenix defender Louis Fenton that left the 33-year-old concussed.

Wanderers have announced that Müller will rejoin the squad for his first pre-season in Red and Black, while newly-installed coach Robinson is trialling another former Bundesliga player as the ex-Newcastle Jets coach aims to hit the ground running when the new campaign starts in less than 10 weeks’ time.

Former Australia under-19 international George Timotheou is training with the Wanderers first team after leaving Belgian club Zulte Waregem. Formerly a youth player at Sydney FC, Timotheou moved to Schalke 04 in Germany and made his top-flight debut in May 2019 against VfB Stuttgart.

However, the 23-year-old's promising career was derailed earlier this year when he was forced to undergo life-saving surgery on a deteriorating heart valve, which required a cow’s artery grafting onto his heart to regulate his bloodflow.

Robinson revealed that Timotheou has been medically cleared to play but the Welshman will wait to make a decision on whether the Canberra-born centre-back becomes his first signing in Sydney's west.

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“George is one of a number of triallists," Robinson told ftbl.com.au.

“He's been cleared with health issues but I'm not jumping into a decision on George because he'll take two weeks with us.

"It's positive that he is back on the field – he is a very good young talent. It's good for him to regain a bit of confidence on the pitch.

"One or two [more triallists] are coming toward the end of the week, one or two from the NPL and one or two who are off-contract." 

Australian defender George Timotheou tackles Stuttgart and Germany striker Mario Gomez on his Bundesliga debut
Australian defender George Timotheou tackles Stuttgart and Germany striker Mario Gomez on his Bundesliga debut.

Redmayne anticipating ‘extrememly tough’ test

Sydney FC may be heading for the sternest pre-season schedule they have ever faced but Andrew Redmayne is embracing the challenges that await in the AFC Asian Champions League.

Steve Corica’s Sky Blues jet out to Qatar in November to play their remaining four games of Group H against Shanghai SIPG of China (twice), Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors of Korea Republic and Yokohama F. Marinos of Japan.

The A-League Premiers and Champions are set to face the likes of Socceroo Aaron Mooy and Brazilian duo Oscar and Hulk of Shanghai SIGP, and a Yokohama side that have already handed them a 4-0 beating back in March. 

“It’s going to be interesting,” Redmayne told syndeyfc.com, ahead of the matches at Khalifa International Stadium in Doha. “We’ve got some tough games and they will hold us in good stead for the A-League going forward.”

He added: “I think you always want to test yourself against the best and we know we’ve got some extremely tough teams in our group who have some amazing players and play some amazing football and I’m sure the boys will be extremely up for it.

“The level of matches we get over there are going to be extremely high and if we get those matches under our belt, perform well and deal with the situations that will throw at us, I’m sure it’ll hold us in good stead.”

Andrew Redmayne
Andrew Redmayne celebrates winning back-to-back A-League Championship titles following August's Grand Final.

Aldred believes Roar are Championship material

Scott McDonald, Jay O'Shea and Macaulay Gillesphey were among the Brisbane Roar players back on the training paddock this week as Warren Moon entered his first A-League campaign as the permanent Brisbane Roar head coach.

The Queenslanders opened their pre-season program in the Gold Coast on Monday, nine weeks removed from suffering a 1-0 Elimination Finals loss against Western United after finishing in fourth place on the ladder. 

“Last season we felt was a successful campaign, but we’ve kept a core group of our squad and make some strong additions to it,” captain Tom Aldred told brisbaneroar.com.au

“For me, we just need to keep improving and that starts on a daily basis. Day-by-day, we want to improve and as players, a team and a Club, we want to get back to the finals and go one or two better than last year and look to win it.

“There’s definitely a squad here who’s capable of doing it. We have the foundations to be successful.”

Team
Roar get pre-season training started at their Carrara training base in the Gold Coast.

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