Luke Callen returns as FFA Centre of Excellence go top of the NPL

Luke Callen
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FFA Centre of Excellence 3 (Trewin 25', Muratovic 75', Italiano 77') def Tuggeranong United 0

Luke Callen made a successful return from injury on Saturday during the FFA Centre of Excellence’s 3-0 victory against Tuggeranong United at the AIS.

The defender suffered a heal injury which kept him out of the squad for 12-weeks but says he’s put it behind him and is focused on helping keep his side on the top of the table.

The result sends the academy top of the PS4 National Premier League ladder one-point ahead of second-place Canberra Olympic.

“It was great to be back out there,” Callen said.

“It’s been a long recovery at the AIS. I’ve been working hard in training to try and get back out there.

“My goals for the rest of the year are to stay fit and just play my best football.”

Goals from Kai Trewin, Mirza Muratovic and Jacob Italiano set up the win, gifting Callen a win during his first game of the season.

“It was a tough game to start off with, high intensity in the first 20-minutes and pretty physical with a few elbows thrown,” Callen said.

“The boys played well passing it around the back and we had some big goal scoring opportunities at the end. “

Head-coach Tony Vidmar applauded Callen on his return to first team football.

“He’s worked really hard to get back so I was pleased for him to play the 60-minutes,” Vidmar said.

“He’s improved even when he hasn’t been playing; he seems a lot calmer on the ball. Physically he’s got an influence but I think his passing and decision-making are getting better.

“He’s different to the other left-backs we have. It makes my job difficult to see who plays in that position."

The former Socceroo praised his side’s performance but said the team has more room to improve.

“We’re very happy with the result but it should have been more. In the second half we created a lot of chances and we probably should have scored more,” Vidmar said.

“Overall we were in total control of the game from the start until the end. They could barley make two passes because of the pressure that we put them under.

“A few of the teams are setting up differently. Tuggeranong tonight sat off deep; in some stages they were man marking and following players everywhere. It took our boys a bit of time to work that out.”