New Melbourne Victory signing Harry Kewell is on track to play in the club's opening Hyundai A-League match against Sydney FC on October 8, according to coach Mehmet Durakovic
New Melbourne Victory signing Harry Kewell is on track to play in the club's opening Hyundai A-League match against Sydney FC on October 8, according to coach Mehmet Durakovic.
Kewell's long-awaited deal with the club was confirmed on Saturday and Durakovic revealed that Victory's fitness and conditioning coach Adam Basil had already been working with Kewell remotely to ensure the injury-plagued Socceroo would be ready to run out against the Sky Blues in Round 1.
While Socceroos' coach Holger Osieck said three weeks ago that Kewell wasn't fit enough to represent the national team in the friendly against Wales, Durakovic said he has every faith that Kewell - who has been plagued by groin troubles over recent seasons - will arrive in good shape.
"Harry is a true professional. I've known Harry all of (his professional) life and if there is one thing Harry always looks after it is his body," he said.
"I've got no doubts on the 8th of October, our first game, Harry will be there."
"We've got a plan in place with our strength and conditioning coach he is doing at the moment. He should be here the first week of September."
One of the most difficult prospects facing Durakovic in his first season in charge could be where to play his new signing.
Victory are blessed with attacking players, including strikers Archie Thompson, Danny Allsopp and Jean Carlos Salorzono, as well as attacking midfielders Carlos Hernandez, Maco Rojas and Isaka Cernak.
"Harry has played in a few different positions and we are all rapt to have him on board," the coach said.
"I honestly see Harry playing behind the striker. In my chat with him, he is confident that wherever I choose for him to play, he'll do a fantastic job."
"He's one of the greatest footballers we (Australia) have ever had and it's an honour to have him on board."
But there will not be any favours accorded to Kewell, with Durakovic insisting the team will be picked on form, not reputation.
"Harry will be treated like everybody else. We are a family, and we want to build a football culture in our club and there is some fantastic footballers in our team," he said.
"Everybody will get a fair share of game time and of they really play well, they will get a game the following week."
Durakovic, who was appointed two months ago after fulfilling the caretaker role following Ernie Merrick's departure, told his players on Saturday morning that Kewell would be joining the club, with the overall reaction extremely positive.
"We had a training session this morning, got all players around and told them the news and everybody was over the moon and so am I. Especially the young boys. They had a smile on their face, they can't wait until Harry gets here," he said.
Several Victory players were excitingly tweeting the news on Saturday afternoon, with youngster Matt Foschini summing up the mood when he said he never would have believed he would have played on the same team as such an icon of Australian football.