Recovery from major surgery to fix a frustrating long-term shoulder injury and the promise of elusive regular club football have Socceroo David Carney expecting a big career lift.
The 28-year-old has had the unusual situation in recent years of being a Socceroos regular when fit, but struggling to find a club where he can play regularly at the top level.
A succession of shoulder injuries have not helped the 2010 World Cup player, who has made 39 appearances for the Socceroos since his 2006 debut.
Since establishing his reputation at A-League club Sydney FC from 2005-07, Carney has had stints with English clubs Sheffield United and Norwich City, then Dutch Eredivisie club FC Twente and Blackpool in the English Premier League.
More recently, he spent several months with Spanish second division club AD Alcorcon.
He admitted his latest move, to FC Bunyodkor in Uzbekistan, was not the stuff of boyhood dreams, but held the promise of the continuity of top-level football he was desperate for.
“I didn’t expect I’d ever be playing in Uzbekistan,” Carney, who is in Melbourne for Wednesday’s World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia, told reporters on Sunday.
“But sometimes the club, if they really want you, sometimes you’ve just got to look at that and I just thought why not.
“That’s what I need, that’s why I’m leaving.
“The coach really wanted me, that’s a good thing.
“Hopefully it’s good for me that I’ll be playing regular football and enjoying it.”
Carney’s most recent Socceroos appearance came almost a year ago against Germany, when he scored in a 2-1 win.
Much of his time since has been spent regaining fitness after a major shoulder operation last May.
It was his third bout of shoulder surgery, the first of which was in 2006.
Carney said even while playing, in the year leading up to his most recent operation, the shoulder problems were hampering him.
“It was affecting me a lot, it was constantly coming out,” Carney said.
“I was thinking every time I did a slide tackle or doing little things, it was in the back of my mind it was going to come out.
“I had to get a big surgery done, it put me out for six months because it was my third operation.
“I needed it. It set me back, but it got fixed and hopefully now I can play regular football.”