Perth Glory star Diego Castro will be even more valuable for the A-League club after a full pre-season, according to football director Jacob Burns.
Castro, 35, signed a one-year extension with Perth last month, the superstar midfielder set for a fourth season at the club.
Unlike previously, the Spanish playmaker is set to join his Glory team-mates from the start of pre-season on Monday in a huge boost to Tony Popovic’s men.
Burns believes that will only help Perth, who have been led by the 2015-16 Johnny Warren Medallist since his arrival.
“‘Cas’ is a very unique player, he’s been a legacy player for us and still has fantastic football in him,” he told Omnisport.
“I think it was a very important one for us as a club, for Popa as manager, to have him back for a full pre-season. I think that’s something that in the past we haven’t had, we haven’t had him at the very start.
“He’s a fit, professional guy and he always looks after himself, but I think it’s going to have even more value him starting day one with the group, being in all the pre-season, through the FFA Cup games, and we’ve got some exciting games coming up, including Chelsea here on July 23.”
Glory are looking for an improved campaign after finishing eighth and missing the finals last season.
The arrival of former Western Sydney Wanderers coach Popovic – who won the AFC Champions League in 2014 – has already given them a boost.
“I think first and foremost he [Popovic] has been successful, he’s taken a start-up club to the AFC Champions League and won it in the first season and he’s been involved in finals,” Burns said.
“It’s his professionalism and his winning mentality I think that players want to come and play for. They know it’s not easy but they know they’re going to be a better player for it .
“The general consensus in and amongst football circles is that yes, it’s going to be a tough time when you’re working under him, but it’s one that I think everyone embraces.”