Having had to wait patiently, new Sydney FC striker Joel Griffiths is now hoping to make his club debut when the Sky Blues take on Wellington Phoenix on Saturday
|By JOHN GRECO
New striker Joel Griffiths says he is the final piece of the puzzle to help revive Sydney FC's A-League season.
With the Australian transfer window finally opening on Tuesday, Griffiths can now make his debut for the Sky Blues against Wellington on Saturday.
Coach Frank Farina is still to decide whether to throw the 33-year-old straight into his starting side but Griffiths is confident he is ready to go despite not having played a match in over a month.
While the Sky Blues have struggled defensively this season, they have also battled to find the right man to lead the attack alongside Alessandro Del Piero.
"Hopefully I am the last piece of the jigsaw puzzle, that's the way I'm looking at it," Griffiths said on Wednesday.
"But [the team] on paper is one thing and doing it is another thing. We've just got to work hard as a team and I'm sure that style of play will come through in all of us.
"I'm looking forward to the challenge.
"And with this team, if we get some sort of rhythm and winning mentality then I'm sure we'll push ourselves into the finals and give it a real shake."
The club was fuming that Griffiths has been unavailable for the last two weeks despite his deal with Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua ending on December 31.
But the former Newcastle Jets attacker believes the time off was just what he needed to recharge the batteries and ensure he's fit and firing for the rest of the season.
"Honestly, it might have been a blessing in disguise after the Christmas period where you eat and drink the wrong food for a sportsman," Griffiths said.
"But I've trimmed myself down now and I'm in good shape so I'm ready to go.
"After a couple of games leading up into the finals, I'm sure I'll be at my peak."
Griffiths said he was a better player now than when he helped the Jets to the 2008 A-League title, having spent last season alongside former Chelsea stars Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka at Shanghai.
"I learned a lot off those players and it was priceless pretty much," he said.
"I was very fortunate to be a part of that team and with those players.
"I'll be doing the same here, I'll be asking Del Piero a lot of questions and picking his brain as much as possible.
"I'm trying my best to get some little combinations with him at the moment."
Sydney head into the Phoenix clash buoyed by their last-gasp 2-1 win over the Melbourne Heart last Sunday - a victory which came thanks to Rhyan Grant's injury time winner.
After spending most of the season on the bottom of the ladder, the side is now within striking distance of the top six, just two points behind Perth Glory in sixth spot.