Rizzo relishes chance

Speedy Perth midfielder Nick Rizzo has given the National Youth League the thumbs up after using the new competition to gain match fitness and fight his way back into the senior side.

Speedy Perth midfielder Nick Rizzo has given the National Youth League the thumbs up after using the new competition to gain match fitness and fight his way back into the senior side.

After an injury-interrupted pre-season, the 29-year-old former Liverpool and Crystal Palace man believes he's done the hard work coach Dave Mitchell required of him and is now reaping the benefits.

After firing in crosses that threatened Newcastle's goal on numerous occasions in last weekend's 2-2 draw, Rizzo could prove a very dangerous weapon for the Glory as the club pushes towards a maiden finals campaign.

"It was great to be back in the team and playing the last two games have been fantastic, there's been nothing better than playing," said Rizzo.

"I was a bit frustrated not being in the team but I've knuckled down and kept working hard.

"I had a bit of an injury in pre-season which I think set me back a bit (and) a few other issues that Dave Mitchell put towards me that I need to improve on.

"(It was) mainly my fitness side and the defensive side of my game. I've tried to improve that by winning a bit more ball, I'm not the biggest type of player but I try and get my foot in and sneak a few balls (from opposition players).

"I've worked hard on those aspects and tried to fix them and I hope I have," he said.

It's been a long journey to Perth for Sydney-born Rizzo, the winger initially moved to Liverpool to train with the Reds academy from 1996 to 1998 and was an unused substitute in six Premier League matches for the club.

From 1998 to 2000 he made 58 appearances for Crystal Palace before spending four years at Italian clubs Ternana and AC Prato.

In late 2004, Rizzo returned to England where he established himself as a fan favourite at Milton Keynes Dons with his deadly crosses and seven goals from 63 appearances. But an injury during the 2006 pre-season saw him lose his place in their first team, eventually leading to his return to Australia, where he made his debut for the Glory against Newcastle early last season.

Rizzo knows it's only a matter of time before his speedy runs down the left and his effective combination with left-back Naum Sekulovski starts paying real dividends.

"Naum's a good player and he's been doing well," Rizzo said.

"He's got a fantastic engine on him, when he seems to overlap, he overlaps me at pace and gives me another option whether to cross or play him down the line.

"So I think we do work well together, plus being two left footers which helps.

"(But my main) job is to get at players and get the ball in a dangerous area for our forwards to attack and hopefully get some goals.

"Unfortunately we didn't get any on Sunday with my crosses but it's just a matter of statistics, the more times you keep putting the ball into the danger area with quality, the more chance you have of scoring goals."