Stuart Kelly's unlucky break could turn out to be Canterbury United's good fortune.
The Scottish-born midfielder, who scored two goals for Canterbury in the 2005-06 national football league final, is back in Christchurch after breaking his leg while training for his South Melbourne club.
Kelly, 26, confirmed yesterday he will coach Mainland premier league club Woolston Technical while convalescing and he is keen to play for Canterbury United again.
"I've been speaking with Korouch (Canterbury coach Korouch Monsef) and would like to sign for them. It's probably likely that I will."
Kelly, a former Glasgow Rangers junior with Scottish League experience at East Stirlingshire, played three seasons for Canterbury and captained the Dragons at the start of the 2007-08 campaign. But he left during the season to try his luck in the semi-professional Victorian Premier League (VPL) in Melbourne.
He initially joined the Oakleigh Cannons, one of the leading VPL sides, but switched to South Melbourne where he played "six or seven games".
Kelly made a favourable impression on the Souths faithful, according to comments on the club's supporters' website, but his season ended abruptly on the training pitch a fortnight ago.
He said he suffered a "spiral fracture" in his fibula in an accidental collision with a team-mate.
Next day Kelly was lying in bed, resting his broken leg and contemplating the end of his season, when Woolston Technical stalwart Bill Cowen rang. The Mainland League club was seeking an urgent replacement for head coach Mick Curry, who has had to head home to England.
Kelly, who was Tech's player-coach last year, thought he "might as well go back and coach instead of sitting on my bum over there".
His main reason for going to Australia was to try to attract interest from A-League clubs. "There wasn't any point in me staying" once he got hurt.
Kelly said his fracture was a clean break and he would be fit for the start of the New Zealand Football Championship (NZFC) season in October, "and maybe by the end of the Mainland league".
Other NZFC clubs have made approaches but Kelly said his preference was to rejoin Canterbury United. "I'd like to play in New Zealand for the full season and look to go to the Scandinavian leagues or the United States League, where (former Canterbury player) Nathan Knox is playing."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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