After watching most of Melbourne Victory’s difficult start to the season from the sidelines, import Callum McManaman has declared himself fit and ready to help spark their A-League turnaround.
The Englishman delivered a scintillating first-up performance and debut goal against Brisbane Roar in early January but has since been sidelined by an ankle injury sustained against Adelaide in his second game.
In their four matches without McManaman, Victory have registered two losses, a draw and just one win and are languishing at the bottom of the table.
Now fit again, the winger is a certain starter for Sunday’s clash with Newcastle at AAMI Park.
“It’s been very tough – a lot harder than usual,” McManaman said.
“Coming into a new club, having a good start, getting to know the lads and not being able to help from the sides. Going to the games and watching’s been frustrating
“I’ve been desperate to get involved and help but finally I’m just glad to be back out here.”
McManaman – who made a name for himself with a man-of-the-match performance in Wigan’s unlikely 2013 FA Cup final triumph over Manchester City – backed himself to make an impact against the Jets.
“I was playing well before I got injured so I’m going to try to take that into the next game I play,” he said. “I’m confident.”
Victory coach Grant Brebner flagged Robbie Kruse would only play “60-70 minutes” and Rudy Gestede would also have limited game time, while Marco Rojas will miss the match as he recovers from concussion and a facial fracture.
Craig Deans’s Newcastle shape as a stern test, having gone four games unbeaten, and Brebner put the onus on Victory to quickly turn things around – starting with Sunday’s game.
“Winning’s a habit and losing can also be a habit,” he said.
“We really need to get on the front foot this weekend.
“We really need to get three points in the first of five home games and start getting that winning habit again that this club has always been associated with.”
STATS THAT MATTER
* Victory have won their past four games against Newcastle at AAMI Park
* Melbourne have won just two of their past 13 A-League games (D1 L10) – both against Perth Glory
* Newcastle and Victory have each conceded four goals in the opening 30 minutes of games this season – the joint-most in the A-League