He may have spent his first couple of months as a Perth Glory player working his way through a gruelling recovery program, but Isaka Cernak can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

He may have spent his first couple of months as a Perth Glory player working his way through a gruelling recovery program, but Isaka Cernak can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The 24-year-old is set to join in with the main group at training for the first time next week after recovering from a hip problem that ultimately required surgery at the start of July.

"I had a labral tear in my left hip and another one in my hip flexor psoas muscle," he explained. "I picked up the injury about two weeks into my spell at Wellington earlier this year, so I played the final six or so games of the season with the injury until I basically broke down and wasn't able to play. "I'm just grateful that as soon as I got here, physio Chris Hutchinson and the rest of the medical team diagnosed it correctly and we got it sorted straight away. "I had surgery in early July and the recovery time from that operation is twelve weeks. "I've done about eight weeks now and I have another three or four to go until I can actually get back playing. "I'm about a week away from coming back into training because I've been running for a couple of weeks now and I started ball work last week. "Hopefully that means that I can be back before the start of the new season."

Arriving at a new club and immediately being forced to undergo surgery is of course far from ideal and Cernak admits that he has often cut a frustrated figure as he's plodded along the long road back to fitness.

"It sucks coming to a club being injured," he said. "You want to be fit and ready to be involved and to establish yourself, so it's been very frustrating and a tough thing to go through emotionally. "It's been very hard to wait, but I'm grateful that I'm here and I'm really looking forward to being a part of this team. "The squad is stronger than it has been in previous years in my opinion and everyone's really committed to Alistair's (Edwards) philosophy. "I think we've got a couple of games just before the start of the season, including one against Sydney and that's what I'm aiming to be back for. "Realistically though, the rest of the boys will have been training for three months by the time the season starts, whereas I'll have only been training for maybe three weeks to a month, so I definitely understand that I'm going to need to earn my spot. "I don't expect to walk straight in when the boys have been training for that long. "My main focus is just to get myself right and make myself available."

Injuries are unfortunately nothing new for the much-travelled midfielder who has already tasted A-League action with four different clubs, chalking up more than 50 appearances in the colours of Brisbane Roar, North Queensland Fury, Melbourne Victory and Wellington Phoenix. But he's adamant that he has what it takes to recapture his fitness and best form and establish himself as regular starter for Glory in the forthcoming campaign.

"I just want to play as much first-team football as I can,' he said. "It's been tough for me personally so far in my career. "Whenever I finally did lock in a spot at a club, I ended up getting an injury. "North Queensland folded when I was there, then I ended up going to Melbourne where I had groin surgery which put me out for three-quarters of a season and I struggled with my hip problem at Wellington. "It's been a frustrating time and now my main focus is to get fit, stay fit and get into playing regularly. "I definitely think I'm capable of doing that."

The likeable Queenslander produced arguably his best football while representing the sadly now-defunct North Queensland and he has recognised some similarities between Fury and Glory in terms of the spirit within the playing group.

"Being at Fury was the first time that I'd been injury free," he said. "We had a great bunch of boys up there in a really good environment and I thrived there. "That 2010-2011 season was definitely the best season for me on a personal note and it was very sad what happened to the club. "It does remind me a lot of the boys that we have here in Perth. "It was a young squad full of really enthusiastic players and everyone felt like they had a point to prove. "I feel that we have that here now. "We want to get Glory back onto the main stage. "The club has a great history, Alistair was a part of that and we all feel that there is something a little extra that we're pushing for."

Gareth Morgan