Sydney FC star Brett Emerton says his recovery from ankle surgery is ahead of schedule and he has no doubts he will be back to full fitness in time for the start of the A-League season.
Emerton has only just started light running again with Sky Blues medical staff after undergoing ankle surgery at the end of last season.
The 33-year-old is set to meet with his surgeon on Thursday and if given the all clear he hopes to ramp up his training program before being able to fully join his team-mates by September.
"The ankle feels great, if anything I'm ahead of schedule," Emerton said. "I really didn't expect it to feel this good so early. Without any incidents I should be back training in a month.
"Being injured is always frustrating but it couldn't have come at a better time, with the long off-season it's given me the opportunity to get it 100 percent right before the start of the season."
While he will not be ready to take part in the Socceroos' next World Cup qualifiers in September, Emerton said he is hopeful of being back in the squad for the matches in October.
Emerton, who was born in the western suburbs and lives in the area now, says he can already feel the intense competition brewing between the Sky Blues and new franchise Western Sydney Wanderers.
"We've never played before but already there's that rivalry," he said. "We definitely want to get one up on them from the very beginning.
"Coming from the western Suburbs myself I can see how many people are excited by it and the prospect of the first [all Sydney] clash in the third week of the season. I'm looking forward to it and I know other people are as well."
Asked if the Sky Blues squad were keeping tabs on the progress of their local rivals, the former Blackburn star said: "As footballers we're interested in the game so we pay close attention to what they're doing.
"They're making progress and it's interesting to watch. They'll definitely be competitive; they've signed some quality, experienced players who will do well for them.
"If we're going to beat them this year we'll have to be at our best."