Fit-again Trent Buhagiar is ready to make his Hyundai A-League debut for Sydney FC, 17 months after signing for the four-time Champions of Australia.
Buhagiar, 21, was threatening to emerge as one of the competition’s breakout stars when he joined the Sky Blues from Central Coast Mariners in July 2018 and scored eight goals in pre-season, including four in as many FFA Cup fixtures.
However, the Gosford-born attacker tore his anterior cruciate ligament on the eve of the 2018/19 season in an innocuous training ground incident.
After more than a year out, Buhagiar is finally ready to feature for Head Coach Steve Corica’s side in Friday night’s clash with Newcastle Jets at Leichhardt Oval.
Remarkably, Corica revealed the speedster has not lost but gained pace during the lengthy rehabilitation and said the forward would be in the running to come off the bench against the Jets.
“The medical staff reckon he’s quicker so obviously they’ve done a fantastic job,” said Corica.
“He hasn’t lost any pace.”
According to a report in the Daily Telegraph, Buhagiar’s sprint time over 20 metres has gone down from 2.930 seconds to 2.829 seconds compared to this time last year, some 11 months after surgery.
The former Australian youth international’s speed over short distance eclipses that of eight-time gold medalist, and former Central Coast Mariner, Usain Bolt, who posted a time of 2.870 seconds over the first 20 metres of his world record-setting 100 metre sprint at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
But as Buhagiar demonstrated for the Sky Blues during the pre-season of 2018, he is no one-trick pony.
“My speed is an asset for me, helps me get behind defences,” he said.
“But I’m not here just because of my pace. I think I’ve got the talent to play centrally too.”