Kwasnik hoping to repay faith

Striker Adam Kwasnik hopes his outstanding pre-season form carries into the Hyundai A-League when the Central Coast Mariners battle defending champion Melbourne in Round 1 on Thursday night.

Striker Adam Kwasnik hopes his outstanding pre-season form carries into the Hyundai A-League when the Central Coast Mariners battle defending champion Melbourne in Round 1 on Thursday night.

Kwasnik has been the club's most outstanding performer in several pre-season matches and is desperate to make sure his good run of form continues.

The versatile attacking player is extra keen for his biggest season in the Hyundai A-League after the Mariners showed enormous faith in him at the end of last season.

After several successful years at the Mariners, Kwasnik shocked club officials when he joined Wellington just before last season.

He failed to hold down a regular starting spot in New Zealand and was thrown a lifeline by his old club.

"They showed a lot of faith in me and have given me another chance," Kwasnik said.

"I'm very grateful to Lawrie (coach Lawrie McKinna) and everyone else at the club for welcoming me back. I want to pay back the club with a big season, starting with Melbourne on Thursday night."

McKinna is confident Kwasnik will make the most of his second spell on the Central Coast.

"We're glad to have him back," he said.

"He will start on Thursday night. He's been our form player off the pre-season."

While confirming Kwasnik would start, McKinna is still unsure who will be alongside him up front.

Nik Mrdja and Matt Simon are in contention along with Dylan Macallister, who has returned to training after suffering a knee injury in the team's final pre-season match against Wellington last week.

Simon, meanwhile, insists the club is looking no further than grabbing all three points from its clash with Melbourne.

"It's going to be massive down there. A Thursday night, there's going to be a big crowd - there always is - and we're opening the new season. The boys are looking forward to it, and hopefully we can turn up on the night and put on a good performance," said Simon.

"This is why we play. We want to go down there and (play in front of what's going to be) a great atmosphere. Hopefully the pitch is up to scratch, and we can get a point or all three."

After tearing the lateral ligament in his right knee in the Mariners' 3-2 loss to Pohang in the Asian Champions League, Simon has worked hard to ready himself for the season opener, which will come three months and two days since the original injury.

"I'm back from injury now which I'm pretty happy about, and I'm just trying to get the kilometres back in the legs now. It's (the knee) not too used to training, so I just need to get all the muscles around the injury used to training again," he said.

"I'm feeling a lot better than what I was seven or eight weeks ago, so I'm pretty happy. The knee is 100 percent now, so as I said I'm just getting everything else used to it and I'm happy with how things are going."

Team-mate John Hutchinson returns to the line-up after playing with the Maltese national team.

"Flying away with the national team was a good experience, and then coming back here, normally we have two to three months of pre-season but this time we've only had four weeks," Hutchinson said.

The midfielder said the team was keen to extinguish memories of its early exit from the Asian Champions League.

"The boys have been training hard, and we're looking forward to the start of the season so we can make amends for the end of last season, which was disappointing," he said.

"While most of the boys have put it behind them, it's still there in the back of the memory what happened at the end of last season, so we're looking to make amends for that and get off to a good start this year."