Jet back in the air after lay-off
By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
WATCHING Nick Carle run around for Newcastle United on Tuesday night, it was hard to believe that the attacking midfielder had just had a shortened pre-season due to a worrying back injury.
Carle displayed all the fitness of a spring chicken as he constantly tormented the Adelaide defence with his deadly passes to teammates in space as well as his quick feet when he was over the ball.
Perhaps it was the promise of a new season unfolding that explains Carle's unbridled enthusiasm for the contest against Adelaide.
"It was great, we've been starved of football for a while now so it was just good putting the boots on and getting a game under your belt regardless of whether it's a friendly or a comp match," Carle said.
"Now we're hoping to get through Saturday's game without any injuries, get another 90 minutes and then be ready for the pre-season competition."
Carle who made his Socceroos' debut last year against Venezuela and was a key member of the team in the World Youth Cup finals in 2001 has sorely missed playing the game he loves since the NSL wrapped up last year.
It wasn't just the waiting for a game that Carle found hard, but the change of lifestyle as well.
"I'd have to say it's been the hardest time in my career, it's been very difficult not just for me but for all the boys," the 24 year old explained.
"People have had to go back to part-time jobs for a while, it's been really difficult but the game's in a position where they're trying to move forward and I think they're trying to do the right thing not just for us but for the guys coming on in the future.
"We might have paid the price now but the guys will reap the benefits later on."
The former Marconi and Olympic star is an unabashed fan of the A-League concept and can see only positives from it's introduction.
"I think the last NSL without being rude to any of the players the standard wasn't there," he continued.
"I think making it eight teams the best players have made the cut. Definitely there's a few that have missed out, because there's only 20 man squads, that could be or should be playing in A-League teams, but that's football.
"The best have secured A-League clubs and hopefully we put a good brand of football out there for the people to come back and want to watch it."
As much ability as Carle has with a football at his feet, he knows that most of the Jets' publicity will be centred around the club's marquee player Ned Zelic and Carle believes that any attention Zelic receives is warranted.
"A player of his calibre everyone wants to play with and everyone respects," he enthused.
"The younger boys, myself as well, should be appreciating the fact that we can learn from him, he's a true professional and we've got a great chance to learn from someone like that."
The dangerous goal scorer also knows that the raised profile and standard of the game in this country can only help him reach his set goals for this season.
"I definitely want to try finish in the top four with Newcastle and personally I would like to be back in the Australian team," he said with a determined look in his eye.
"For me to do that I need to play regular football and have a good year."