Mrdja and Osman return to the fold


Both Mrdja and Osman missed the lions share of the Mariners? third Hyundai A-League campaign as a consequence of differing knee injuries.
Mrdja?s ailment, a recurring grievance that has come about from problems with the cartilage in his right knee, was corrected by surgery late last year and has restricted the Qantas Socceroo to watching from the grandstands for nearly seven months.
Osman?s injury was perhaps more straightforward ? the 24-year-old tearing his anterior cruciate ligament during a routine training drill at Bluetongue Stadium on the eve of the Mariners? Round 8 Hyundai A-League match up with the Queensland Roar.
Osman also required surgery, a full knee reconstruction and a mammoth six months later on, is on the verge of completing a full training session and re-staking his claim for a Mariners starting berth.
“The procedure was a complete ACL repair, a knee reconstruction, I had a bit of cartilage damage in my meniscus and I also had a fracture in there, so I was on crutches for seven weeks, I?ve undergone a lot of rehab from when the surgery was done in November until Christmas time and it?s been a long haul from there,” said Osman.
“Now, I?m probably at about 75% and working pretty well, change of direction is coming along and hopefully I?ll be involved in full training in three to four weeks.
“The advice from the medical team is for me to be training in three to four weeks and then competing in some sort of game situation in six to eight weeks, so potentially by the end of June I could be featuring in some of the games that we play ? hopefully that is the case and all goes well.”
Mrdja?s recovery has been much anticipated by Mariners and Qantas Socceroo fans alike since the 29-year-old exploded onto the Hyundai A-League scene in May 2005.
It was during this period where the Mariners qualified for back to back pre-season finals, firstly the Club World Championship qualifying series showpiece followed by the inaugural Pre-Season Cup final, that Mrdja underlined his value to the yellow and navy cause.
Six goals in eight matches ? all at Bluetongue Stadium, were genuine cause for excitement ahead of the inaugural Hyundai A-League season, however, Mrdja first felt the effects of his current injury on the eve of the campaign and was subsequently ruled out for the entire season.
Season two saw Mrdja return to training in pre-season before belatedly making his Hyundai A-League debut against the Queensland Roar at Suncorp Stadium in Round 10.
Six appearances, three from the opening whistle, delivered Mrdja his first Hyundai A-League goal ? a blistering long range free kick against the New Zealand Knights at North Harbour Stadium.
Mrdja?s influence was evident in abundance on the pitch, with the Mariners registering three wins and three draws over the course of the six matches he took part in, but this time, Mrdja fell foul to a heel injury that forced him to the sidelines for the last five weeks of the season.
With a full pre-season under his belt ahead of the Hyundai A-League 2007/08 campaign, Mrdja duly delivered with six goals in pre-season trials, another in the Pre-Season Cup and two in the opening three rounds of the Hyundai A-League.
It was then with immense frustration for the player, the Mariners club, their Members and supporters that Mrdja suffered a recurrence of the injury that had so dogged his progress over the past two years within days of making his Qantas Socceroos debut against Argentina in Melbourne.
Again, Mrdja was again ruled out for the entire season.
Now, as the Mariners ready themselves for their season four assault, Mrdja is well advanced down the road to recovery, with an aim to playing some part in the Mariners? Pre-Season Cup campaign, which begins in mid-July.
“I?m feeling great, I?ve had a long time off, I?m going through the whole process again and definitely looking to get out there and have a kick with the boys,” said Mrdja.
“Basically, I?ve had four months off after surgery, and I have a three-month rehab program which I?m about halfway through and hopefully within about five weeks or so I can join in with the boys and start enjoying it, instead of watching them train.
“This time has been an entirely different approach, last time I had surgery it was a six week break before I started running, this time it has been four months.
“It definitely feels good, it feels right, I?m just keeping my fingers crossed and hopefully it all comes good.”
Mrdja and Osman will not take part in the Mariners? upcoming trial matches against the Central Coast Lightning at Pluim Park on Tuesday, 20 May and against Spirit FC at Christie Park on Wednesday, 28 May, but are a chance at returning in time for the Mariners? 2008 Pre-Season Cup campaign.
The Mariners? opening Pre-Season Cup match is against Wellington Phoenix at Westpac Stadium on Sunday, 20 July. Kick off is at 2pm AEST.