Lochhead still struggling

Tony Lochhead is clearly frustrated by the ongoing groin injury that has prevented him getting into pre-season training with the rest of his Wellington Phoenix team-mates.

Tony Lochhead is clearly frustrated by the ongoing groin injury that has prevented him getting into pre-season training with the rest of his Wellington Phoenix team-mates.

The left-back has been plagued by groin problems in the last couple of years and was forced out for three months of last season's Hyundai A-League campaign after undergoing surgery on a torn adductor muscle.

Although he returned to help steer the Phoenix to the play-offs the problem lingered and he missed New Zealand's internationals against Mexico and Australia in June and is still working his way back to fitness now.

"Basically I had a surgery on the right side then surgery on the left side and now I've got the pain back on the right side," he explained.

"I guess it's a tricky one. All the muscles are coming in from all different areas. It's just about trying to get everything back balanced which can be tough."

While his team-mates were being put through drills by new strength and conditioning coach Lee Taylor on Friday, Lochhead cut a lonely figure as he ran laps on the nearby running track.

And he admitted he was finding it tough to keep his spirits up.

"I'm not too excited about getting up and running around the track. The prospect of being back out playing is keeping me going I guess," he said.

"It's not too much fun, especially if it's by yourself, doing mindless running. You sort of zone out."

"But I'm making some progress. I'm doing straight-line running now and we're progressing to change of direction. I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, so I'm off suicide watch," he added with a rueful chuckle.

"I'm looking forward to getting back out there and kicking a ball around."

The 29-year-old was hopeful he would not need more surgery.

"I don't think there will be another operation. I don't want another operation," he said.

"Everyone seems pretty confident I won't need one. So fingers crossed."

"We just need to go through the rehab process. We've got time on our side so there-s no point rushing it and getting me back to play some of the pre-season games. I'm just going to take my time and make sure I'm right before I come back."

The target for being back to full fitness remains the start of the new Hyundai A-League season in October.

"I'm 100 percent confident I'll be right for the A-League when we start. I should be involved in some of the pre-season games."

The Phoenix are scheduled to play Brisbane Roar in Dunedin on August 20 followed by a game in Shepparton against Melbourne Heart on August 26.