Perth Glory captain Brandon O’Neill says a lack of top-level, pre-season competition will not hurt their new A-League campaign.
While other clubs have faced A-League opposition, border restrictions limited Glory to three games against State sides and a handful of intra-club games.
But O’Neill, who will lead the side for the first time after returning for a second spell at his home town club, believes flying under the radar could be an advantage.
“Like a good horse we’ll be going into the season first-up,” O’Neill said.
“Sometimes that’s a quite of an advantage.
“Teams look at you as a bit of an unknown but we’re quietly confident we’ve prepared as best as we can.
“The borders have made things difficult for us in terms of pre-season games but that’s something we can’t worry about.
“We focus on round one. The boys are ready.”
Glory face a horror start to their season with nine consecutive away games after Saturday’s home clash with Adelaide United.
“That’s why we’ve assembled a very good squad,” O’Neill said.
“A starting 11 doesn’t win you championships. A squad does.
“We’ve built a very, very good squad that’s on a journey to winning a championship.
“It’s something I want to be a part of.”
O’Neill said seasoned professional imports like former England and Liverpool signing Daniel Sturridge and Spanish forward Adrian Sardinero had fitted in seamlessly.
“Sixteen weeks getting ready, you could see the start of this week that mindset shift from pre-season to round one,” he said.
“There’s a lot of excitement in the changing room. The chemistry, energy is one of people trying to get better as people and as footballers. We’ve got a good mix.
“What surprised me really quickly was the players’ mindset shift to be able to be team orientated rather than individual based.
“That’s going to lead us into a hell of a good direction.”
The midfielder began his career with a Glory youth contract in 2010 before and made 17 A-League appearances before moving to Sydney FC for five years and 111 games.
He spent 2020 with K-League club Pohang Steelers before a lucrative transfer to Thai League One side Buriram United.
“I never thought I’d get the privilege, not necessarily of leading the boys out, but of even running out on HBF Park,” O’Neill said.
“It’s something, when you think about it, your hairs stand up on the back of your neck.
“It will be quite an emotional occasion.”
O’Neill said being appointed captain was “awesome”.
“It gives me a great opportunity to learn a bit about myself,” he said.
“Being away with the lads six or seven weeks you really get driven into a family orientated environment and that’s something I love.
“One of the main reasons I came back to this club is I treat it as a family.
“Being away where it’s just you and the boys, you have no option but get on.”
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