Melbourne Victory defender Tim Hoogland is aiming to impact the club's push for a place in the Hyundai A-League Finals Series, after returning from a long-term injury.
Hoogland has suffered two separate leg injuries since joining Melbourne in 2019, but returned to the squad against Newcastle Jets in Round 20.
Victory takes on league-leaders Sydney FC this Saturday in Round 22 at Marvel Stadium and Hoogland is hoping last week’s win over Adelaide United will restore some self belief.
One game at a time
“We have to be aggressive and want to win every duel,” said Hoogland. “Maybe with a little bit of luck or a set piece we can control the game. Everyone has to believe in themselves.”
The German defender hopes his return to full fitness will enhance Victory’s chances of finishing in the top six. However, Hoogland has stressed the importance of focusing on one game at a time.
“You won’t hear anything from me about Finals. That is a long way away,” he said. “It is best if everyone at the club focuses on the next game and it is a difficult one against Sydney.”
“They dominate a lot of games from what I have seen. They have had a little bit of luck as well, but they have a winning mentality. It is good for us to play against them, to show everyone what we can do.”
“Now or never”
Victory’s next four opponents all currently occupy a place in the top six, with Victory six points behind the pack.
Andrew Nabbout’s stoppage-time winner over Adelaide United in Round 21 closed the gap and could inspire a late run of form.
“That was really something and it was much needed,” reflected Hoogland.
“I’m also happy for Andy (Nabbout) for scoring such a beautiful goal because he missed two chances at the beginning of the game. That win gives all of us a big push and I can’t wait to play again this Saturday,” he said.
This Saturday’s clash with Sydney will be Hoogland’s first taste of the rivalry with Sydney, having missed a majority of the season.
“It was a tough and difficult time, but I always tried to get as soon as possible back on the pitch. Now we just have eight games ahead and finally I am back and hope to help the team climb the ladder.”
Hoogland has spent most of his rehabilitation in and around the club, but is disappointed to have missed out on the club’s AFC Champions League campaign.
“It was a weird feeling seeing the boys travel around Asia,” he admitted. “My target was to get fit and we did a lot of things in those weeks. It was strange seeing them play away because I want to play every game, but that is in the past.”