Roar keepers rise to the challenge

It’s a rivalry that ensures Brisbane Roar is in safe hands when the club’s Hyundai A-League season resumes with a Suncorp Stadium match against Wellington Phoenix on Monday, 2 February (7pm kick-off).

Michael Theo has not played this season after breaking his wrist in pre-season training. He required an operation in which a plate and nine pins were required to help repair the break.

Jamie Young stepped up and played every match as the Roar posted three wins and three draws in the opening 13 rounds of the season.

Now, both keepers are in full training as they bid to get interim coach Frans Thijssen’s nod for the game against the Phoenix in just over two weeks.

Roar goalkeeping coach Jason Kearton has not held back with several demanding sessions in recent days that tested the agility, reflexes and fitness of his keepers.

The two highly competitive custodians relish the rivalry and both are looking forward to the challenges ahead.

“Being in competition is a good thing, it’s positive for the team and good for us keepers. If I see Mick doing well [in training], then I have to raise my game,’’ Young said.

Theo said he is feeling good and ready to take the next step in his recovery.

“I’m rapt to be back training in full capacity with the rest of the guys. It’s been a slow process and it has been a bit frustrating as you want to be out there as quickly as you can,’’ he said.

“Now that I am out there, it’s good for the club to obviously have myself back with my experience and winning mentality and I am looking forward to the next two weeks and being available for the next game at home against Wellington.”

Young said he was pleased with his contribution while Theo was on the sidelines.

“Before the start of the season, I wouldn’t have expected to play as many games as soon as I have. But now the opportunity has arisen, it’s great and the main thing for me going forward is to concentrate on improving myself,’’ Young said.

“There is a lot to take from my first three or four months of the season. I’ve played a lot of games . . . I feel like I have had a steady improvement in performance and I think I’ve been consistent. I have had to adapt to a different style of play in a team with a very good culture and history.  That’s something I can be really positive about.”

Theo said he had begun to test his wrist by taking shooting practice again.

“There were a few stingers there, a few hard shots,” he said.

“That was good from a mental perspective. It is good to be back out there doing shooting drills and stopping those shots. Mentally I feel good, physically I feel good, it’s just a matter of getting that sharpness back in training and then playing matches.

“My sole focus in recent months was recovering well from the wrist injury. It’s been small steps and now I am focused on the second half of our season.

“There’s still a lot of football to play and I am ready to contribute to the team to make sure we turn our season around, make the [Hyundai A-League] finals and do well in Asian Champions League.”