Now into the final month of preparation for the 2022/23 Isuzu UTE A-League Men season, Western United is ramping up its fine-tuning ahead of its Championship defence.
John Aloisi’s men returned to training at the beginning of July and have been working up to speed ahead of the league opener on Friday October 7, a blockbuster Grand Final rematch against Melbourne City.
The bulk of the squad has returned fit and ready to go again, with a number of players standing out in pre-season matches so far.
Lachie Wales has been the undoubted star of Western United’s pre-season so far with a number of top performances in recent weeks.
The No.8 kicked off the pre-season period with a match-winning display against Melbourne Victory in the Australia Cup Round of 32, where he put the cross in for the own goal to open the scoring and netted the winner himself early in the second half.
Wales made an impact in the subsequent three pre-season friendlies with a goal and an assist against Bulleen Lions, another goal against St.Albans Saints and a brace in a meeting with Pascoe Vale.
Wales was a key contributor throughout the 2021/22 season and had a particularly major role in latter part of the campaign, and will be hoping to carry that form into the new season.
Still just 18 years of age, Rhys Bozinovski has flourished when given the opportunity in pre-season and has put his name in the minds of Aloisi and the coaches for the season ahead.
Earning his debut senior start against Victory at the beginning of August, Bozinovski oozed class in a mature 90-minute display, constantly looking to find the ball and get United on the front foot in possession.
He then came off the bench in the matchup with Bulleen and had a great impact on United’s attacking play, with all three goals coming after he entered the fray.
The strong form continued for United’s No.42 with another assured display against Sydney United in the Australia Cup, where he got through 120 minutes of football.
Opportunities and minutes under his built will provide Bozinovski with a boost of confidence heading into the season proper as he looks to work his way further into contention for competitive matches.
Western United’s vice-captain Josh Risdon has been imperious at right-back throughout pre-season, relishing an extended run of fitness.
The No.19 was dominant against Bulleen, hit the post twice and created a number of chances against Sydney United and laid off a brilliant assist to youngster Oli Lavale in the win over St.Albans.
Heading into his 13th season in the A-League Men, Risdon looks in as strong a run of form as he has ever been as he looks to play a big part in United’s side once again, while also continuing his pursuit of a return to the Socceroos fold.
Coming off his debut year in the A-League Men, Noah Botic has arrived in good shape for pre-season and has staked his claim for more match minutes this season.
Beginning with two great showings off the bench in the Australia Cup, Botic has scored in three of Western United’s four friendly matches, including the latest clash against Western Sydney Wanderers.
The No.38 also scored twice in two games for the NPL Senior’s last month, with the majority of his pre-season strikes coming from close range as a result of his predatory instincts in front of goal.
Botic will be eager to continue that form heading into the final month of preparation for the new season as he strives for a first A-League Men start and a first A-League goal this season.