Brisbane Roar coach Mike Mulvey’s injury headaches have eased with the league leaders confirming experienced defender Jade North will return to the starting line-up for this Sunday’s game against Newcastle Jets at Hunter Stadium.
North’s return is timely for Mulvey, with regular starters Matt McKay and Ivan Franjic in camp with the Socceroos ahead of Tuesday’s friendly against Costa Rica and unavailable for this weekend’s fixture.
North was put through his paces at a full-team training session on Friday morning and will line-up against his former club, although star striker Besart Berisha, who also trained on Friday with the squad, will be held back another week.
Speaking after the training session, a visibly relaxed Mulvey joked that North was lucky to walk back into the match-day squad after his one week lay-off.
“He’s fortunate, isn’t he? Because it’s not easy to get into a winning team,” Mulvey said tongue-in-cheek of the centre half, who has 41 caps for the Socceroos to his credit.
A slightly more serious Mulvey immediately explained, “He’s been helped in that regard by the fact a couple of guys are missing the game, but he was the first person to text me last week saying how pleased he was and proud he was at the performance, and to pass his congratulations on to the boys.”
Mulvey stated that the club was cautious about not rushing players back from injury in the early stages of the season, “We probably could’ve played him last week, but we decided not to and get him one hundred per cent.”
Young striker Kwame Yeboah is expected to return to the starting line-up following his stunning match-winning goal last weekend in Gosford, with Mulvey saying Berisha remains a week away in line with the club’s considered approach to injuries.
“I think at a push we could play Bes this weekend, but we had a plan all along that it will probably be next week,” Mulvey explained.
“If you watched the training session today you would’ve seen him do some really serious stuff one hundred per cent. He joined in part of the team session and he’ll train fully with the team tomorrow.”
“He’s at full pace now, so another week (and) train him while we’re away, (and) he’ll be in good shape soon.”
Mulvey however suggested that the constant discussion of injuries and international call-ups were detracting from the results on the pitch, which see Roar sit top of the league and tees-up a top-of-the-table clash against Wanderers next Friday night.
“(Berisha) in a good place, but as I say, I hope the papers tomorrow aren’t about who’s missing and who could be coming back, I hope it’s about who’s actually playing because that’s the really important bit as far as I’m concerned.”