Grella itching to get back in the green and gold
After a frustrating first season in England in which he admits he paid for being "naive", Qantas Socceroos linchpin Vince Grella can't wait to get back in the green and gold.
DUBAI, June 2 AAP - After a frustrating first season in England in which he admits he paid for being "naive", Qantas Socceroos linchpin Vince Grella can't wait to get back in the green and gold.
The 29-year-old has missed four of Australia's last five World Cup qualifiers during an injury-riddled stint with Blackburn in the Premier League.
Three separate injuries restricted him to only 17 appearances in his first year with the club he joined from Italian side Torino.
But after playing in Blackburn's last five league matches and showing glimpses of his best form to help them avoid relegation, Grella is keen to finish the season off strongly in the upcoming qualifiers against Qatar, Bahrain and Japan.
"It's been a shit year," Grella said from Dubai, ahead of Australia's showdown with Qatar in Doha on Sunday (0200 AEST).
"I'm happy to see the end of it but I'm feeling good now and looking forward to these next few games."
Grella bluntly claimed it was his own poor choices that saw him take so long to adjust to English football after a decade in Italy.
"Sometimes I could have dealt with things a bit better," Grella said.
"I played with niggles and was just making them worse until some big damage happened and then I had to stay out for while.
"I was a little bit naive in some cases.
"The Premier League's a lot quicker than Italy and if you're carrying niggles, it can soon catch up with you.
"But at least in the long run I got back to full fitness at the end of the season, I did well and I was happy.
"I'm looking forward to next season and I think I can do a lot better."
The Victorian looks certain to start against Qatar as the Qantas Socceroos look to rubber stamp World Cup qualification by claiming at least a point.
Grella admitted clinching qualification in the Gulf nation when many Australians will be sleeping would seem anti-climactic compared to the penalty shootout heroics in the win over Uruguay which took Australia to the 2006 Cup.
"I don't think you can simulate that feeling ever again," Grella said of the 2005 match in Sydney.
"I think that just sits in the history books of Australian football and will never be touched again.
"Obviously the teams kicked on since then and we are looking forward to the next three games.
"We can't get carried away with this (needing) one point thing.
"We've got to be positive and make sure that we don't get fooled into being too negative."
Qantas Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek put 22 Australian players through their paces in a solid training session on Monday night that included a heated bust-up between Harry Kewell and Jason Culina.
Galatasaray star Kewell took issue with a tackle by the A-League bound midfielder and the pair exchanged words several times before the situation cooled.
Captain Lucas Neill, meanwhile, opted not to comment on speculation he is set to leave his Premier League club West Ham.