Striker Shane Smeltz says he’s never felt fitter as he looks to battle for a starting XI spot with Sydney FC’s new marquee forward Filip Holosko.
Overnight, Sydney announced the classy Slovakian forward had signed from Turkish club Besiktas.
It’s a boost for the Sky Blues who’ve lost Marc Janko, Corey Gameiro and Bernie Ibini to their strike-force ranks.
But Smeltz says he’s in the best shape he’s been in a long time.
And you sense there’ll be a battle royal for that starting XI spot as the out-and-out striker for Graham Arnold's Sky Blues.
"I feel stronger than ever,” Smeltz told www.a-league.com.au on Tuesday. "We had testing the other day and I’m right up there with the top end of the group.
“I’m feeling good and I just want to stay there [at that level]. And once you get to that [fitness] level you can really focus on your football.
“It’s well-known I had a few issues with my body but Clarkey got me back on track [conditioning coach Andrew Clarke]. He’s been fantastic."
It’s also possible Smeltz could play alongside Holosko with the Slovakian reputedly able to play as a ten as well as an out-and-out striker and wide forward.
“We’ve put in some hard sessions early doors. I felt last season I got myself back on track and I’ve come back into this season feeling great.
"And that’s a result of the great coaching staff. So I’m looking forward to what lies ahead in this pre-season.”
Last season, Smeltz made 12 sub appearances at Sydney FC. It didn’t stop him contributing though with an impressive eight goals and three assists from 21 appearances (with nine starts).
His shooting accuracy was 63.2%, according to Opta, which was the best percentage of the Sky Blue frontline.
Sydney players began pre-season last week ahead of their Westfield FFA Cup round of 32 clash with Sorrento on August 5.
“We’ve brought in Holosko and a good midfielder from Serbia, so we’ve got some fantastic players and some great young players.
“But there are places up for grabs. It’s up to who wants to take it. And I’m certainly as I always want to, grab it with both hands and play as much as I can,” added Smeltz.
“No player should have a guaranteed spot. You’ve got to work hard. You’ve got to be fit and that’s a good thing for Arnie.”
So will Holosko have to earn his spot? “Absolutely,” declared German-born Smeltz.
Smeltz, a New Zealand World Cup international and one of the greatest ever goalscorers in the Hyundai A-League, was on hand today to help Sydney FC launch their new Puma kit at Circular Quay.
“I feel very good. I feel fresh with this new kit on and I'm feeling fresh out on the field," he said.