Elrich to play his part

Central Coast will have one of the highest profile recruits in Australia itching for some action off the bench when the Mariners battle Japanese heavyweights Kawasaki in a crucial Asian Champions League showdown at Gosford on Wednesday night.

Central Coast will have one of the highest profile recruits in Australia itching for some action off the bench when the Mariners battle Japanese heavyweights Kawasaki in a crucial Asian Champions League showdown at Gosford on Wednesday night.

Former English Premier League and Socceroo star Ahmad Elrich is back from a serious knee injury and desperate for game time in one of the most important matches in the Mariners history at Bluetongue Stadium.

Victory on Wednesday night will give the Mariners a great chance of qualifying for the competition's knockout stages at the first attempt.

Elrich suffered a serious knee injury in round three of the A-League and was forced to watch from the stands for nearly six months. He returned for Central Coast's first Champions League match against Pohang last month, playing eight minutes off the bench.

But now, with his match fitness much better, he is hoping for much more game time.

The winger feels he is ready to make an impact for the Mariners.

"The coach might have a different outlook for this game, we might go out and be more attacking because it's at home," Elrich said.

"When I was injured the Champions League gave me something to focus on. It was tough missing all that time but being able to come back and play in a competition like this is a bonus."

Mariners coach Lawrie McKinna said Elrich was a 'certainty' to be in squad on Wednesday.

"Having him back in the squad has given everyone a huge lift," McKinna said.

"To have a guy like Ahmad coming off the bench is a huge bonus for us. He can keep the ball and is good pushing forward, he'll get on at some stage in the second half."

The Mariners can jump to the top of their group with a win on Wednesday night.