Luke Wilkshire in action for FC Terek Grozny in Russia.
Luke Wilkshire in action for FC Terek Grozny in Russia. Epsilon

Wilkshire ready to prove he's still got it

FOOTBALL: Sydney FC's new signing, Luke Wilkshire, says he won't take any risks in building up his fitness for the new season, despite coming through exhaustive testing before joining the club.

Wilkshire trained for the first time with the champions on Monday after signing as an injury-replacement for Rhyan Grant, determined to prove that at 35 he can show Australian audiences that his career is not yet over.

The former Socceroo spent last season at Russian clubs Akhmat Grozny and Dinamo Moscow, though he made only six appearances. But having spent four days establishing his fitness with coach Graham Arnold before signing a one-year deal, Wilkshire said he was prepared to take his time acclimatising.

"I'll talk to Arnie but I've had a couple of good sessions already," Wilkshire said.

"We'll build it up slowly, there's plenty of time to get 100%. Touch wood, fitness has never been a problem for me. I'm clearly not at my peak at the moment but I got through (the testing) ok.

"It's strange to hear everyone speaking English, and to be able to understand the coach. But I know a few of the guys from playing with and against them. Everyone speaks about the A-League improving and it has over the years.

"Sydney won the league convincingly last year, and the challenge for me and the team to go back to back is an exciting one. I'm here to help Sydney win the league and have a good run in the Asian Champions League."

With 80 caps for his country, Wilkshire said the opportunity to work with former national team boss Arnold had been a significant factor in rejecting offers elsewhere in Russia in order to play in Australia for the first time in his career.

"With Arnie you know what you'll get," he said.

"He's straight - you can enjoy your football, enjoy your time around, and if you work and do things in the right way you know where you stand."

News Corp Australia

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