A frustrated Gary Hooper is eager to leave life on the substitutes bench behind him as Wellington Phoenix prepare to face Melbourne City on Saturday.
Hooper came off the bench and netted twice as the Phoenix fell 4-2 away to Perth Glory last Friday, and isn’t keen to repeat the experience.
“It was disappointing not to start but that’s football. I don’t want to be on the bench, Id rather start,” said the former Celtic star.
Nix head coach Ufuk Talay left the 31-year-old out the XI because he wanted to use the extra pace of Jaushua Sotirio. When it was becoming clear that his plan wasn’t working, Talay was quick to turn to the experienced hitman.
Gary Hooper duly delivered, and will be chomping at the bit to be the main man for the City clash this weekend.
After losing to Glory, this is another big test of how fair Talay has been able to bring his charges. After an excellent unbeaten run, the Phoenix are having a few speed wobbles.
But it’s nothing Hooper is concerned about, who was pleased with the spirit Wellington showed during the second half. “The plan was to keep going, get up the other end and score goals. We was unlucky at the end. We was a bit sloppy for goals in the first half but we kept fighting.”
The Englishman took a little while to get up to speed in Wellington, but is back to full fitness now and can’t wait to start banging them in on a regular basis. Hooper arrived without a proper pre-season, picked up a quad injury and had to be eased in gently.
But those days should be over soon.
“I feel fine,” he explained. “I feel fit. Took a bit longer than I thought but I’m injury free and its nice to play football. I was out for a long while, its nice to play football without any injuries - even though I done by quad when I turned up.”
And with a firing Hoops leading the line, Melbourne City have every reason to fear Wellington.