Star Perth Glory striker Shane Smeltz says his troublesome ankle is feeling “brand new” as he prepares for Sunday’s elimination final against A-League rivals Melbourne Heart at nib Stadium.
Smeltz tuned up for Perth’s finals campaign in grand style last Saturday, scoring four goals in Glory’s 4-2 triumph over Melbourne Victory.
But the picture appeared far gloomier last month when Smeltz succumbed to a nagging ankle injury, with the complaint keeping him out of action for three weeks.
A cortisone injection failed to get Smeltz back out onto the park, with the 30-year-old eventually opting to have blood injected into the area in a bid to speed up the healing process.
Smeltz has quickly regained top form since his return.
And after putting Melbourne Victory to the sword last week, the New Zealand international is eager to inflict some pain on the Heart.
“Personally I’ve overcome some niggling injuries this season and I’m feeling as good as I have all year. It’s good timing for myself,” said Smeltz, who is the A-League’s all-time leading goalscorer with 62.
“In the last couple of weeks the ankle has settled right down.
“It’s almost feeling brand new.
“I’m not going into games at all thinking about it in the last two weeks.
“When you’re thinking about injuries, it’s not always nice.
“I’m looking forward to staying fit and hopefully we can go as far as we can.”
The Glory are set to be bolstered by the returns of skipper Jacob Burns (ribs), midfielder Liam Miller (hamstring) and defender Bas van den Brink (calf) against the Heart, while Josh Mitchell (back) and Steven McGarry (hamstring) are also chances to play.
Smeltz said the team was buzzing ahead of the club’s first ever A-League home final, but the Heart will be far from daunted at having to travel to Perth after beating the Glory there 2-1 in December.