GCU steps it up

Gold Coast United is preparing for its second season in the Hyundai A-League, with Miron Bleiberg's men now back to full training prior to their season-opener against Brisbane Roar on August 8.

Gold Coast United is preparing for its second season in the Hyundai A-League, with Miron Bleiberg's men now back to full training prior to their season-opener against Brisbane Roar on August 8.

United's World Cup heroes Jason Culina and Shane Smeltz will not join the squad until mid-July, taking time off to rest their bodies from the rigour of the greatest football competition but the rest of the squad is gearing up for a run of pre-season matches.

A finalist in their first season in the competition, United will play four pre-season friendlies in their build-up to this campaign, against Palm Beach Sharks, Rochedale Rovers and a Gold Coast Select XI side, before fronting North Queensland Fury a fortnight prior to the Roar opener.

Bleiberg said United's training has clicked up a notch to prepare the squad for another finals assault.

"Our training has now moved into second gear and I'm happy with where the squad is in terms of fitness," said Bleiberg.

"The upcoming trial matches will help us with cohesion and these sides always make good opponents at this stage of our preparation."

"The start of the season is coming fast and the whole squad is excited about what lies ahead of us. You can sense the determination in the players to improve on what we achieved last year and we certainly have the strength in depth to do that."

"The derby match against Brisbane Roar is a great way to start the new campaign and it's sure to be an exciting day. Everyone wants to play in that game of course and you can already see the competition for places heating up at training," he said.