July 24, 2015 11:28:21 UK
Shane Smeltz will be hoping to start more games for Sydney FC next season, after coach Graham Arnold shook up his forward line.
Smeltz only started on nine of his 21 appearances last term, not least because of the form of Austrian ace Marc Janko, who finished the season as the league’s top scorer.
Janko has since been released, though, along with fellow forwards Corey Gameiro and Bernie Ibini. It leaves Smeltz with the chance to make more of an impact and potentially to reclaim his place as the A-League’s all-time top scorer.
Last year we had a really good season, and the feeling is we want to build on that.
With Melbourne Victory having re-signed Archie Thompson on a one-year deal, the duo will battle it out for the honour – Thompson currently has 89 goals to Smeltz’s 85.
Smeltz, who scored eight goals last season compared to Thompson’s 11, believes the new-look Sky Blues forward line will challenge for honours again, after the club reached the Grand Final last time.
Sydney FC are 4.75 to win the Australia A-League 2015/16 Grand Final outright.
The 33-year-old former New Zealand international said: “There is a lot of excitement about this (campaign). Last year we had a really good season, and the feeling is we want to build on that.”
Arnold has plenty of options up front, says Smeltz, including recent signing Filip Holosko.
Smeltz added: “We have young George Blackwood and he’s coming back after a little bit of a shoulder issue – he’s a talent. [Arnold has] brought in another two quality foreign players, as well as quite a good number of young players that he’s already signed.”
Smeltz hopes to get more game time in the new campaign, although he says every other player will also be putting their hand up for regular selection.
He said: “Whenever I was needed, whenever I played I was feeling good within myself, my body was in good shape, and I was able to perform,” he added. “And the same goes for this season. (I’ve got) the right mentality and every time I step out on the field I want to perform and nothing changes.”
Sydney FC are 2.20 to win their first game of the A-League season against Melbourne City, who are 2.90 with the draw 3.40.
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