REVITALISED ZAHRA READY TO SHINE

"I'm hoping to deliver for Perth Glory and have a really big season in 2013-2014".

"I'm hoping to deliver for Perth Glory and have a really big season in 2013-2014".

That's the upbeat message from Glory attacking midfielder Adrian Zahra who feels that the club's fans are yet to see him at his very best. The 22-year-old made five starts and three substitute appearances last term in what was his first full season since returning from knee surgery and he believes that he is now ready, physically and mentally, to recapture the kind of form that won him so many plaudits during his spell at Melbourne Heart.

"Last season was a frustrating one for me," he said. "Would I have liked to have played a lot more first-team football? Of course I would and I would definitely have liked to have made a bigger impact. "But it was my first season back from a major injury, so to be inconsistent was something that I knew was going to happen. "It's often said that it takes around 18 months to two years to fully recover from a serious injury and get back to where you were, so last season it was important for me to be coming in and out and getting 90 minutes for the youth team, or 30 minutes for the first team. "Now I feel that the way I've started off this pre-season, the body's getting back to its normal self and to where it was before the injury and I'm hoping that this season is going to be the season where I'm back playing my best football. "I'm definitely feeling really good about that at the moment."

Completing a full pre-season program will of course be vital for the hugely likeable Melburnian and thus far, he is on course to do exactly that. Following his impressive performance in Glory's pre-season hit-out against Gosnells, Zahra completed 45 minutes in the first game of the club's South Africa tour against MP Black Aces and again looked lively when introduced off the bench for the final half-hour of Sunday's clash with Tuks FC.

"This trip has definitely gone well for me at a personal level," he said. "Physically I feel great. "I've got a lot of minutes under my belt already, everything's going well and I just want to keep ticking along "My personal aim this season and this pre-season is to be as consistent as I possibly can and I think I've done that quite well in the two tour game so far. "I'm going out there determined to make an impact, whether I start, play for an hour, or 30 minutes or whatever it may be."

Having been selected to start the club's final two games of last season, Zahra is clearly very much a part of Alistair Edwards' plans going forward and the versatile attacker feels that the 4-3-3 system employed by Glory's Head Coach is one that plays to his strengths.

"The system that Alistair prefers to play definitely suits me as a player," he said. "Whether I'm out wide on the right or the left, or even in behind the strikers, it's a system that I really like. "Alistair has come in and brought a good philosophy and structure and it's something that really suits my game."

Off the field, meanwhile, the man who made 19 appearances for Heart in the 2010-2011 season feels that he has a key role to play in helping bring his team-mates closer together.

"This year I'm trying to step up not only with my football," he said, "but also at a personal level. "I'm looking to be the link between the older lads and the younger ones. "Even though I'm still a younger lad at 22, I feel that there's a bit of a gap between the older and younger players and I'm trying to bridge that gap. "If the older boys want the younger lads to know something, I let them know and vice versa. "I want to step up in that regard and really have an impact on and off the field."

Gareth Morgan