Isolation, injury returns and intensity – Inside the first month of Western United pre-season

Western United’s A-League team has completed its first month of pre-season training, with new head coach John Aloisi getting to work with his squad ahead of the upcoming campaign.

New signings and scholarship players have joined the side at different stages of the program, with more still to come over the coming weeks as the season draws closer.

One of those is Nikolai Topor-Stanley, who United signed from Newcastle Jets in the off-season. He is nearing the end of his quarantine spell after coming from New South Wales and is eager to get back on the pitch soon.

“I’m buzzing to get out there and play football. Times like these certainly put things into perspective about how fortunate I’ve been to be a footballer for such a big period of my life,” he said.

Topor-Stanley is no stranger to a pre-season campaign given his pedigree in the game, but this has been one that is completely different from the rest.

Despite the circumstances, Topor-Stanley has been able to maintain his own fitness ahead of his return while also already feeling a part of the team.

“The club sent me (in quarantine) some gym equipment and some footballs, so I have been able to keep up my running, general strength and fitness and get touches on a football,” he said.

“I’ve had contact with a whole lot of people from coaching staff, backroom staff and players. The communication has been great as I feel very much part of the team even though I haven’t set foot on the training ground yet.

“I’ve even managed to watch training that’s been recorded online so that’s been great.”

Fellow new signing Noah Botic is also eager to finish his quarantine stint and get to work back in Australia after two years playing in Germany.

“I’m really looking forward to meeting the team and staff that I’m going to be spending the next two years with and to build great relationships,” he said.

“Once I put the green and black colours on, then I’ll be excited for sure. I just can’t wait to get started.

Both players are due to complete their isolation periods by the end of the week and should be to report for training on Monday August 23.

For the players that have been at training already, intensity has been high from the moment that Aloisi stepped into the role.

Lead Strength & Conditioning Coach Andrew Rondinelli has relished working alongside Aloisi and has already been impressed by the development of the squad.

“John is an ultimate professional who demands the best from his players and staff. Coming into work each day has been very refreshing for all players and staff,” he said.

“The group returned from annual leave in very good condition, which is very pleasing especially with a new coaching team taking over.”

Rondinelli detailed that each player is undertaking a personal program over the off-season, and he has been particularly impressed with how Victor Sanchez, Josh Risdon and Dalibor Markovic are looking after going through injuries in the latter part of last season.

“Victor and Josh are ultimately professionals who tick every box, every day. Both have completed 100% of pre-season and physically are both in a very good position,” he said.

“I am very happy with how both are progressing and expect them both to physically go up to another level this season.

“To Dalibor’s credit, he spent two weeks of his annual leave training in the NPL program to ensure he can come into pre-season with some training under his belt. We expect Dalibor to continue his developments on the pitch and in the gym in the coming months.”

With match practice set to begin shortly and when safe to do so, the mood in the west is a positive one as preparations continue ahead of the club’s third season in the A-League.