Spiranovic battles for A-League fitness

Fitness cloud: Western Sydney’s Matthew Spiranovic. Photo: Brendan EspositoWestern Sydney Wanderers centre-back Matthew Spiranovic, a key man for the Socceroos in the World Cup, is battling to be fit for the start of the new A-League season in October.

Spiranovic, who cemented himself as one of Ange Postecoglou’s first-choice players in Brazil, will go into hopsital for surgery to an injured ankle on Monday.

The recuperation is expected to last up to 10 weeks, which could put him in doubt for the Wanderers’ first match in early October against Melbourne Victory.

The tall defender, who scored the club’s goal in the grand final loss to Brisbane Roar last May, will definitely miss all of the Wanderers’ pre-season including its crucial Asian Champions League quarter-final clash with defending champions Guangzhou Evergrande. The Wanderers are due to host the Chinese club on August 20 in Sydney, with the return leg taking place a week later in the Chinese city.

Spiranovic signed a new deal to tie him to the Wanderers before the World Cup, and was one of a handful of Australian players who enhanced their status in the tournament, starting all three matches.

Under Tony Popovic’s coaching, the elegant centre-back has developed the steel which many thought was missing from his game earlier in his career.

While the months immediately after the World Cup are usually a circus with players who impressed getting moves to bigger clubs, there has been little action involving the Socceroos.

Only Adam Taggart has so far changed clubs, the young striker leaving the Newcastle Jets to sign a three-year deal at former English Premier League club Fulham, who were relegated to The Championship last season.

Quite how much 20-year-old Taggart, the A-League golden boot winner last season, is likely to play is a moot point, given that Fulham has splashed out big money on former Leeds striker Ross McCormack and also welcomes back Costa Rica captain Bryan Ruiz from a loan spell with PSV Eindhoven.

Ruiz was one of the standout players in the World Cup when he led the Ticos to the last eight and although there have been reports that Italian Serie A club Palermo is interested in acquiring the Central American, he still has a year left on his Fulham contract.

Meanwhile, Melbourne City’s players were due to begin the long journey back to Australia on Thursday night after a morale boosting 5-1 victory over a Bolton Wanderers XI in a pre-season game.

While the Championship club fielded a team that was some way short of its best line up, the result will give City plenty of heart for the FFA Cup campaign and the A-League season that follows.

John van ‘t Schip’s side had previously drawn tour games against League One Oldham and League Two side Bury.

Reports have claimed the club is in negotiations with Slovenian international striker Robert Koren over the international marquee role. Spain great David Villa is due to join on a 10-game guest player stint, while former England star Frank Lampard has also been linked with the club as a potential guest player.

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