Sydney FC marquee Alessandro Del Piero believes he is a ''big chance'' of playing in Saturday night's second Sydney derby at Allianz Stadium despite missing last week's 2-1 win over Wellington Phoenix with a hamstring injury.
The 38-year-old trained on his own on Tuesday in the company of personal trainer Giovanni Buonocore in an effort to build his fitness before the match with a relatively light session. Only later in the week will Del Piero be more strenuously tested to see whether he is fit to play.
However, the Italian is upbeat about his chances of playing against Western Sydney in a game that could draw close to 30,000 fans after both teams picked up wins last weekend.
''It's a very short problem, fortunately. The damage is nothing too bad. We'll see today and tomorrow [my fitness] for the weekend. There's a chance I'll play Saturday. I hope so,'' Del Piero said.
''When you're injured, you work three times more than when you don't have an injury. That's why I hope to play soon. We can talk better later in the week about how much chance I have of playing on Saturday. At the moment, everything goes very good, but ... we'll see what happens. This is going good, there's a big chance I'll be playing on Saturday.''
Having already missed a game earlier in the year, the 7-2 defeat against Central Coast, there's a small worry that Del Piero may have lingering hamstring problems but he's convinced it's not the case.
''It's two different situations. Similar, but it can happen when you change a lot, when you play a lot, and this season that's exactly what happened. There's no damage, just a little strain and fatigue,'' he said. ''Sometimes, as we say in Italy, 'You have to pay something' for this to be OK in the future.
''Last month, I missed one game out, so it's OK. Fortunately the team played a very good match on Sunday in Wellington, we won, I'm very happy about that. We needed a victory. Now we look to play better and better and win some games.''
Del Piero said he hoped new coach Frank Farina could be the man to turn Sydney's season around after they laboured to just two wins in the opening rounds.
''It's too early, and especially because I haven't trained in the field with him and with the team. But, for sure, he's come and made some tranquillity,'' he said. ''He's a man with a clear idea and this is good for us, especially in this moment. We are feeling better also inside [the club]. This is good but we need to improve and I think we started very good with the nice game with all the points. The defending was good.''
Having come from a Juventus side that went unbeaten en route to the Serie A title last season, Del Piero admitted the present situation now required him to ''fight''.
''I am not used to losing games in my life but I understand I am in a different moment now and different team and situation where anything can happen,'' he said. ''We hope now with a new manager something will change for the rest of the season. We need to keep a good, positive mind and let's see what happens.''
Having been forcefully targeted by Melbourne Heart's defenders in his last game, Del Piero said he hoped the referees would be more wary of the attention being dished out in the future.
''I only know what happened to my legs and it is no good. But I know this is soccer, not another sport where you don't fight each other,'' he said. ''But especially the last match was very hard because six, seven [tackles] from the back is not good. It can cause injury, and danger can happen in different situations.
''But I'm not here for crying and to say, 'Oh, they kick me' - I don't worry. This is the referee's work, to protect the footballer.''
ADP in his own words ...
ON STAYING NEXT YEAR
''We have discussed what will happen and we have a good relationship with the club. We talk every week and we wait to decide. Everybody is waiting. At the moment, we have to think game by game and to make a good position in the standings ... We have time to decide the future.''
ON PLAYING IN THE A-LEAGUE ALL-STARS AGAINST MANCHESTER UNITED
''Yes, we have to see. I heard about this news and I'm really happy because Manchester United is one of the best teams in the world [especially] in the past 20 years. They've been top of the English Premier League, top of the Champions League and won it twice in the past 10 years. I think everyone will be happy.''
ON THE DIFFERENCE IN HIS ROLE AT SYDNEY
''In Italy, I always played for the same team, we change not too many players ... it's easy when you play for a long time with the same people. For me this year, I've changed teams. That's why I need to understand what the players want to do and what they need.''
WHAT HAS TO CHANGE AT SYDNEY
''I am not in a position to say concerning this question. I feel it's too early for me to say ... First of all, my work is to play soccer - but if something else is coming, I am ready for talking and to put all my energy and knowledge and experience and all my help for this club, and I want to do it.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SERIE A AND THE A-LEAGUE
''There's a difference, yes, but I want to wait for the end of the season to understand one season, what happened.''
APPEARING FRUSTRATED WITH TEAMMATES
''No, I'm frustrated with the results. The last few matches, everyone was more nervous than the first [few games]. That's why I scream or talk to each other, but we're still learning, day by day.''
- Sydney Morning Herald