He’s not yet ready to play 90 minutes but Keisuke Honda says he’s close to full fitness and prepared to return in Melbourne Victory’s top-of-the-table clash with Perth Glory on Sunday.
Honda hasn’t played in almost two months after suffering a mystery hamstring injury in mid-December.
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The Japanese legend rates himself as 80% fit and is set to be used as an impact weapon off the bench in Sunday’s blockbuster at AAMI Park.
"It's almost 100%, it's close to that,” Honda told reporters in Melbourne on Friday.
“But this is a sensitive point. Conditioning and my legs are different. My leg is almost 100% but my conditioning isn’t enough to play 90 minutes yet.”
However, Honda rated himself as a strong chance to feature at some stage in the clash.
“It all depends on the game situation. Maybe if I have to play second half if the situation is bad because maybe we have to score or attack."
Honda admitted it was important for him to be back to peak fitness in time for the start of Victory’s AFC Champions League campaign next month.
This injury has been one of the most serious of the Victory marquee’s glittering career, with only a meniscus problem side-lining him for four months while he was playing for CSKA Moscow.
"I haven't got this kind of injury when I was young, I told Kevin [Muscat] I have to take care of myself…I am not young anymore,” Honda explained.
"I always work 100% at every training. My body was tired [during rehab], but my mind is OK."
While delighted to have his star recruit back, Muscat said he wouldn’t be rushing Honda back into his starting 11, especially with the team performing admirably in his absence.
“It would be unrealistic and unfair to put Keisuke in the team immediately on the weekend,” Muscat said.
“Not only for himself but also the group that have been tremendous in obtaining a large amount of points over a period of time without Keisuke.”
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Muscat hinted defenders Georg Niedermeier and James Donachie had also trained well this week and were in contention to be included in the squad.
Victory have the chance to close the gap on league-leading Glory to one point if they can register a win on Sunday.
It was Glory who scored a 93rd-minute goal to win 3-2 when the two sides met at AAMI Park earlier this season.