Fit-again Zawada back for Wellington’s ALM title push – FTBL

In a huge boost for Wellington’s A-League Men (ALM) title hopes, star striker Oskar Zawada has shown his fitness and could return as soon as this weekend.

Zawada, who has suffered a number of injury setbacks this year, was a surprise appearance on the training track this week as he battled to recover from a leg issue.

The towering Polish No.9 clearly showed enough to come into contention for Friday night’s round-25 clash with Newcastle, showing up to Wellington Airport on Wednesday to travel with the squad.

“It’s a big lift,” fellow forward David Ball said.

“Knowing that he’s here with us and we’ve hopefully got him going into those big games.”

Zawada, an U21 international, has 20 goals from 36 appearances in a Phoenix shirt.

His last goal came in an 18-minute cameo against the Jets back in January – as he struggled with the same leg injury – when he climbed from the bench to score an 87th-minute winner.

A fortnight ago, coach Giancarlo Italiano said he was planning for the rest of the campaign without Zawada, such was the nature of his injury.

However Zawada, who is notorious for his love and sometimes-cryptic use of Instagram, did not give up home of a return.

Last week, he posted a slo-mo video of himself running topless on a treadmill in the gym, alongside a caption “It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up … see you soon again.”

“We absolutely love him,” Ball said.

“He’s a character. He is one of the hardest working footballers I know in terms of the stuff that he does off the pitch.

“He will be obviously not game fit, not match fit, but I think he’d be able to give us enough minutes and we’ve seen it in the last game against the Jets, he is one of them players that needs one chance and he can score.

“It might be that one chance that we just need him for.”

After showing his class in the ALM, he is widely expected to return to Europe at the end of his deal in June.

The Nix are fighting for a first piece of silverware in club history and are level on points with leaders Central Coast with two rounds to play.

The third-bottom Jets cannot play finals and are fighting to survive off the pitch, with financial concerns around their place in the competition.

Robert Stanton’s side will have a huge say in the outcome of the premier’s plate, hosting the Kiwi club this week and their arch-rivals Central Coast in the final round.

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