Nikas knocking on A-League door once more

Any sportsmen will tell you that it is hard enough to make the top grade of any sport but having to do it twice is a whole other headache.

Any sportsmen will tell you that it is hard enough to make the top grade of any sport but having to do it twice is a whole other headache.

Former North Queensland Fury and Central Coast Mariners midfielder Panny Nikas is aiming to return to the top flight of Australian football after playing in the NSW National Premier League (NPL) since the Fury-s demise.

The 2009-10 National Youth League player of the year has had a stellar year in the NPL playing with the Sutherland Sharks and has now got himself back in the reckoning for an A-League return.

“I wanted to be the top goal scorer and then help my team to the Premiership so I am definitely happy with the way I-ve played so far this season,” said Nikas.

“I am achieving my personal goals and the club is on top of the table with two rounds to go."

The Sharks sit three points ahead at the top of the NSW National Premier League table as they edge closer to taking out the league title.

“We went through a high stage earlier in the season which was great. Then last week we lost to Marconi despite playing well and then this weekend just passed we did enough to win and put ourselves in a good position.

“We have a tough game against Manly this week but I think we are peaking at the right time especially heading into the finals series.”

With his side doing well and Nikas scoring goals he has continued to attract the attention of A-League clubs.

“I spent a week up in Brisbane which was great.

“Professional football is at such a high standard and you can tell the difference to the semi-professional level.

“I had some positive feedback about my time at the club and still have a strong desire to get back into the A-League.

“I think that if I return to that professional environment then it would help me to continue to improve myself as a player.”

Although realising that the A-League is a step above, Nikas has seen first hand just how far the NPL has come in his time in the league.

“I think technically and tactically that players and teams have improved.

“While the A-League is starting to turn heads around the world the NPL has also improved dramatically and will continue to.

“I think improving facilities and potentially an extra training session a week could help improve the league further again.”

One of his biggest supporters is his coach Robbie Stanton who has been impressed with what Nikas has been doing on the pitch.

“Panny has done very well this season,” said Stanton.

“I think he has matured more as a player and in doing so has scored a lot of goals for the club this season. He fits in well to how the team plays so I-m very happy with what he has achieved to date for us.”

While no doubt he would lose one of the main keys to success if he did move on, Stanton believes his star midfielder has what it takes to play at the top level again.

“I think he could come back into the A-League and do a job for a club.

“He has had a couple of trials and I think his versatility as a player bodes well for him.

“I believe he can get even better if he gets to play full time football again.”

While the A-League is the ultimate goal for Nikas the 25-year-old has ensured that life after top-flight football is going to be a smooth transition.

“I have finished my degree in PDHPE and am currently doing a fair bit of casual work at the moment.

“I also coach an U/14 Super League side (Bankstown) which I really enjoy and it gives me a chance to give back to the sport."

Nikas and the Sharks attention is now focused solely on their match at home against Manly United this Saturday August 3 with kick-off at 7pm at Seymour Shaw Stadium.