Huke raring to go

Eleven months since first arriving on the Central Coast, Mariners midfielder Shane Huke could be finally set to make his Bluetongue Stadium debut in the A-League against Wellington Phoenix on New Year's Eve.

Eleven months since first arriving on the Central Coast, Mariners midfielder Shane Huke could be finally set to make his Bluetongue Stadium debut in the A-League against Wellington Phoenix on New Year's Eve.

Huke is on the road back from a serious knee injury after performing solidly for the club's National Youth League side, scoring two goals from two appearances.

But it's time in the big league that Huke is chasing after originally signing for the Mariners' maiden Asian Champions League campaign, only to succumb to injury shortly after in the side's pre-season match against North Queensland Fury in Rockhampton back in June.

"It's annoying being injured for so long, but I feel like I've worked hard, and I'm a month ahead of where they (the physiotherapists) said I should be (in my recovery), I got back playing with the Youth team, and I'm just really pleased to have made an appearance," said Huke.

Huke admits it's been tough to spend almost a year at a club without being involved, and being forced to watch from the stands.

"Especially for nerves and things like that, they are all gone now and it was good to finally, after so long, make a debut. Sometimes you feel like an outcast but it is good now I am back in the thick of things," he said.

"It is strange, I've been here since February and it was my first A-League game, but it was good to get it under my belt, and hopefully there will be a few more before the end of the season."

The Mariners will be without experienced defenders Dean Heffernan and Nigel Boogaard for the New Year's Eve showpiece through Socceroo duty and suspension respectively, and Huke hopes he can retain his place in the starting eleven in front of what is hoped will be the club's biggest home crowd of the season.

Huke even joked he'd be willing to deputise for goalkeeper Danny Vukovic, also on assignment with Pim Verbeek's Socceroos.

"To be honest I'd play in goal if it got me a game," laughed Huke.

"I don't mind, I don't know what the 'gaffer' (coach Lawrie McKinna) is thinking, he may change the formation, that's up to him, but hopefully I will be in and around selection, which would be good."