Osman to face old mates

Midfielder Matt Osman faces his former club for the first time this Saturday night when Gold Coast United take on Central Coast Mariners at Skilled Park, in what is United's final home pre-season fixture before the Hyundai A-League kicks-off in August.

Midfielder Matt Osman faces his former club for the first time this Saturday night when Gold Coast United take on Central Coast Mariners at Skilled Park, in what is United's final home pre-season fixture before the Hyundai A-League kicks-off in August.

Osman says he is looking forward to catching up with some of his old teammates, but will put friendships aside as he looks to force his way into Miron Bleiberg's thoughts for the big first round clash with Brisbane Roar.

"It will feel a bit strange to come up against the Mariners so soon after coming to the Gold Coast, but it's still pre-season so it will be a completely different game to the first one in the Hyundai A-League," Osman said.

"I'm still looking forward to catching up with a few of the boys from there although there will be no friendships on the pitch as my goal is to keep working and make sure I'm in the starting side for the first game of the season against Brisbane Roar."

"That's my target and that's what I'm working towards. It's up to me to ensure I'm in the mind of the coach when he picks that team."

A foundation player with the Mariners, Osman says he has settled well in what is only his second Hyundai A-League club, adding that the newly assembled United players are starting to find their rhythm.

"The other players are great and training has been full on so it's been really good; I've settled in really well."

"There are still a few weeks to go before the start of the season and we're beginning to get into a groove in terms of how the coaches want us to play."

"We're developing on the pitch and in the last few weeks before we start we're looking to further establish ourselves and make sure we're as competitive as we want to be in every game," Osman said.

As the countdown to the start of the Hyundai A-League gathers pace, Head Coach Miron Bleiberg sees Saturday's match-up with the Mariners as the ideal game at the ideal time, saying he expects a solid test from Lawrie McKinna's side and will field a strong starting line-up.

"From my point of view the game is very important because of the timing and the opposition," said the United boss.

He continued: "We are just three weeks from the start of the season but that will give us time to fine tune ourselves tactically if we have to."

"The Mariners have been consistent performers throughout the history of the Hyundai A-League so for us as a new club they will be an excellent yardstick for how we stand at the moment. I suspect they will feel the same way so it will be a good exercise for both teams."

"I've told our players to forget the glory against Fulham and the win over North Queensland Fury. This is a different game but we have to approach it in the same professional manner that we have displayed in all our other matches."

"I will be putting out my strongest available side because it's important that we continue to build the understanding between those players."

"We are trying to be as sophisticated as possible so we have flexibility in our formations. We have been rehearsing for several weeks now so it's vital for us to see this in action in a game situation with our full squad."

Bleiberg expects to have a fully fit squad with the exception of long-term injury victim Jefferson and youngster James Brown, who is to begin light running this week after recovering well from his broken leg.

Speedster Tahj Minniecon is still hopeful of being included in the matchday squad after being laid low this week with a virus.