Time right for Robson

After two injury-plagued seasons his career was at a crossroads, but it looks like Gold Coast United midfielder Robson is finally ready to start living up to the hype.

After two injury-plagued seasons his career was at a crossroads, but it looks like Gold Coast United midfielder Robson is finally ready to start living up to the hype.

Robson was one of coach Miron Bleiberg's most heralded captures when United entered the A-League in 2009, but in two years derailed by fitness concerns he managed a total of just 30 appearances.

In amongst them were occasional glimpses of his undoubted quality - but after an off-season transformation, the former Brazilian youth international looks in career-best touch and in the right shape to put his maddening inconsistency behind him.

After Gold Coast were knocked out in last season's preliminary final, he spent just three weeks in his native Brazil before returning to duty in mid-April in preparation for the coming campaign.

Noticeably trimmer and fitter, Robson has been the surprise packet of the pre-season for United - and Bleiberg revealed it was a case of now or never for him.

"He knows it's the last year of his contract and like every player he has to fight for his survival. He knows that he has to perform," Bleiberg told Sportal.

"He knows that if he lets us down this year he will definitely go home. He knows that for two years he let us down and now it's about time."

"For two years I've said that he's a very good player but not many people believed me and I don't blame them."

"At the end of the day you are as good as your performances and he didn't perform because he was injured all the time. But now, so far, so good."

Robson himself admits his confidence took a hit each time injury reared its ugly head, but it's a different story now.

"I'm going a lot better than the last two seasons," he said. "I'm confident now. I think I can do a lot better this year."

"I want to stay here but I must prove myself more this year. I think I can."

It's easy to forget the quietly-spoken Brazilian is still only 24 years old - but in United's new, youthful squad he is now one of the elder statesmen of the group.

He donned the captain's armband in Wednesday night's 4-0 friendly win over Southport, carving up the local side's rearguard time and time again with his inch-perfect through balls and intelligent runs.

In a side inundated with fresh faces and new signings, a rejuvenated Robson could prove to be United's secret weapon.

"He's not a different player. He's a player who can play now," Bleiberg said.

"Before he couldn't - he was injured all the time and didn't play, and when you don't play you become unfit. It's a vicious cycle. Now he's broken from it."

"I think he likes Australia and enjoys life here but we are not here for him to enjoy his life. Maybe he heard that the Gold Coast was a holiday destination and he came for a holiday."

"He was 'Robson Holiday da Silva' but now he's started to become a serious player. I think he's learned a lesson."