SMELTZ EYES "MASSIVE SEASON"

He may not be stretching out too well just at the moment, but Shane Smeltz is confident that he will be back to his very best for both Perth Glory and New Zealand during the 2013-2014 season.

He may not be stretching out too well just at the moment, but Shane Smeltz is confident that he will be back to his very best for both Perth Glory and New Zealand during the 2013-2014 season.

The Hyundai A-League's all-time leading goalscorer was forced to undergo a hip operation last month, surgery he felt was absolutely essential in order to remedy a nagging problem that had hindered him for over a year.

"It had been an issue for me in terms of both playing and training for around twelve months," he explained, "basically ever since I was away at the London Olympics with New Zealand last off-season.

"That was a really busy period for me and that was when I first noticed that I had an issue with the hip and the groin all down the one side. "It never really went away and I ended up carrying it all last season. "I was just managing it and getting through, but worrying about your body week-to- week is obviously not good for your game.

"It got to a stage last season where I had to have a couple of cortisone injections and we never really put our finger on exactly what was causing the problem. "We didn't really find that out until I came back here for pre-season and obviously that was a shame because if we'd indentified it earlier, I could have had my surgery earlier and I'd be further along with my recovery than I am now.

"But the positive to come out of it is that we did find out what I needed doing, I got the operation done nice and quickly and two, two-and-a-half weeks later, I'm feeling a lot better. "The groin pain has gone, now it's just a question of time and making sure that I do my rehab properly and the surgeon said that he's pretty confident that I'll get some really good results from it."

While understandably reluctant to pinpoint a specific date for his return to competitive action, the 31-year-old is clearly chomping at the bit to get back to finding the net for both club and country.

New Zealand face a November play-off against the fourth-placed side from the CONCACAF region in order to book a place at next year's World Cup and Smeltz would love to help put the All Whites in a position to repeat the heroics they produced in South Africa back in 2010.

"I've got a time-frame of when to start running and when to start playing again and I've just got to stick to that now," he said. "I'll be doing everything I can from now on in terms of rehab to be ready as soon as I can, but it's difficult at this stage to put an exact time frame on it.

"This could be a massive season and that's another reason why I decided to get this operation done. "I didn't want to go through another season of battling through week-to-week and the surgeon said that once I recover, I'll be feeling as good as ever. "Obviously that's what I want.

"We've got an All Whites camp in September which unfortunately I won't have much involvement with, but I'll certainly be having a chat with (All Whites coach) Ricki Herbert around that time as we look towards that massive World Cup play-off against Honduras or Panama or whoever it might be."

Gareth Morgan