Melbourne Victory midfielder Gui Finkler says he has plenty of work to do as he continues his return from a knee injury.
The Brazilian impressed in his first season in the A-League before rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in a clash against Western Sydney in January.
Finkler, 27, returned in a pre-season friendly against Hume City and played the first half in the Victory's loss to Newcastle on Wednesday.
He looked short of match fitness and Finkler said he needed time before he could recapture the form which saw him lead the league for assists prior to his injury.
"I need more game-time and working at training with the ball," Finkler told the club's website.
"Some of the stuff during the game (like) the tempo. Even if you're fit, you need to improve all the time."
Finkler said playing a half against the Jets – a match he only started because Archie Thompson withdrew due to illness – was a massive step in his recovery.
"I'm feeling pretty good. I'm feeling pretty happy now," he said.
"It's a huge step for me – back playing 45 minutes. I know I have a lot of work to do. Step by step, we'll get there."
Finkler is delighted to be back and said he reflected on his time on the sidelines when he stepped out to face Hume in Broadmeadows on September 8.
"A lot of things went through my head – all my recovery, all the tough times," he said.
"I'm pretty happy to be out on the park doing the things I love. I'm excited and looking forward to the season."
Victory coach Ange Postecoglou is ready to give Finkler the time he needs and is confident he will recapture the quality which saw him star early last season.
"He's still a fair way away," Postecoglou said after the loss to the Jets.
"He wasn't going to start today but obviously Archie pulling out ... [we] had to throw him in for 45.
"It'll take him a while, but the good thing is that's 45 under his belt now. We'll try and get him some more game time. Once he gets up to speed, he'll be a handy addition for us."