Heat on Roar spots

Veteran midfielder Massimo Murdocca says the Brisbane Roar are working as hard as ever over the international break with competition for starting places heating up ahead of a frenetic run of ten games between October 16 and November 24.

Veteran midfielder Massimo Murdocca says the Brisbane Roar are working as hard as ever over the international break with competition for starting places heating up ahead of a frenetic run of ten games between October 16 and November 24.

After breaking his leg to miss the majority of the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season, Murdocca has been vocal about bouncing back with his best year yet, but in a harsh blow, the Roar workhorse suffered a quad injury in the first round of competition, and is only now approaching a return to full fitness.

"This week has given us a chance to work a little bit harder with the weekend off - it's a pretty good plan I think," Murdocca said.

"(My leg) is not too bad. It's getting close to 100 percent."

"I had a little hiccup with the quad injury at the start of the season, which wasn't too good, but now that I've got that out of the way hopefully I can keep building on my fitness and becoming a regular in the first team is the main thing now."

"I think there were glimpses (of my best last week against Perth). I don't think I'm 100 percent back, but it was definitely a massive positive to go through 60 minutes without feeling pain somewhere in my body."

Roar coach Ange Postecoglou makes no secret of how highly Murdocca is rated within the Brisbane camp, not only for his on-field attributes, but for his faultless work ethic and infectious enthusiasm.

But despite serving as an integral part of the Brisbane set-up since the very first year of A-League action in 2005, the midfield mainstay realises it will take his best football to tie down a permanent starting spot in a side flying high in second place after eight games this season.

With skipper Matt McKay and new recruits Erik Paartalu and Thomas Broich shoring up positions, Murdocca's main rival for minutes is Mitch Nichols, who, has looked among Brisbane's most creative and dangerous options in attack, particularly since returning from a successful tour with the Olyroos.

Ahead of Brisbane's 2-1 win over Perth Glory last weekend, Postecoglou told Sportal that Nichols has the ability to elevate and become an automatic selection in the starting side.

Full of respect for his younger teammate's ability, Murdocca is up for the challenge of cementing his place in the middle of the park and improving his match fitness to a point where he can be considered for the entire 90 minutes.

"Mitch is playing very well. He's not a bad option to bring on at the end of the game and that might happen for the whole year, or that might die off eventually once I start getting back to my best again," he said.

"If Mitch keeps playing well it's a possibility (that I won't play a whole game this season), so I'll definitely be pushing hard to get back to my best again, and when I do I think there's a big chance I'll be playing 90 minutes."