Revitalised O’Donovan eyes Garcia partnership

Central Coast Mariners striker Roy O’Donovan is set for a return to the first team against Melbourne Victory on Sunday and the former Sunderland striker could partner superstar Luis Garcia.

After serving an eight-week ban following an incident against Wellington Phoenix, the Cork-born 30-year-old striker is raring to go and somewhat chastened after his long spell on from the sidelines.

“It was a regrettable incident, it’s not one I want to repeat ever again,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

“I’m remorseful but I have to move on. I learnt a lot of lessons from it. 

"Eight games is a long time in a 27-round season so I’ve had plenty time to reflect while watching the Mariners not get results of late.

Roy O'Donovan could find himself in hot water for an alleged head-butt in the Mariners 3-1 NYE win over Wellington.

“But I’m ready to go in whatever part the manager wants me to play. And it’s important in these last six games we get some pride back, because it’s been a disappointing season.

“We’re a young side so for me to be missing for that amount of time hasn’t been ideal for anybody.”

Behind the scenes at the Mariners

To keep up match fitness, the former Cork City and Coventry City forward has played in a number of training games over recent weeks featuring youth players and trialists.

He concedes his match fitness may be lacking but believes his experience will be vital against the reigning Hyundai A-League champions on Sunday at Central Coast Stadium. 

Meanwhile, Garcia trained separately from the main group at the club’s Tuggerah HQ on Wednesday. 

The Spaniard is quietly confident that his hamstring problem picked up in last week’s F3 derby won’t keep him out of selection content for Sunday as he rehabbed the injury. 

“It’s a great opportunity for me,” added O’Donovan when asked about playing his first game alongside the former Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Liverpool star.

Mariners star Luis Garcia on the ball during his side's 4-0 loss to Brisbane Roar.

“I’ve been training with him the last few weeks and some of the passes he can pull off is terrific.

“And he plays the ball very quickly, which suits my game. Hopefully we click this weekend against Melbourne Victory and get some goals.”

The Irishman has also spent time with Mariners fans in the stands and has undertaken extra community work during his time away.

“They’ve got the patience of Saints,” he said of the Mariners fans.

And the community work he’s done has given him a fresh perspective on life.

“I enjoy that side of things. I’ve done a lot of work with kids, a lot of them unfortunate kids who aren’t in the greatest of health.

Mariners striker Roy O'Donovan celebrates scoring the opener at Central Coast Stadium.

“It has definitely been something that makes me reflect there are people a lot worse off than someone getting an eight-week ban for a footballing problem.

“And kids are brilliant. They’ll tell you straight out, ‘what were you doing!?’ And I’ve got no answers for it.”

O’Donovan is about to become a father, too.

“I’m due a baby boy in the next few weeks so looking forward to kicking a ball around with my own son. Who knows, he could be a future Socceroo.”