Sydney FC and Australia star Brett Emerton believes he has reached a point in his career where he needs to slow down and take more care of his battle-scarred body.
The experienced midfielder said this is the best way to prolong his career as much as possible.
Emerton is on the comeback trail after recovering from ankle surgery in the off-season.
He played for 30 minutes in Sydney's friendly match against Newcastle Jets on Sunday and should get more game time in the weekend match against Brisbane Roar in Mackay.
Emerton, 33, does not know for sure when he will be ready for competitive football.
What he does know is that it is time for him to consider slowing down after a career characterised by a high-tempo, full-action approach that has earned him 92 senior appearances for Australia.
"I think it's only a matter of time as a footballer that you have to change the way you play the game," Emerton said.
"You are not going to be young for ever and I think I'm probably at that stage where I need to take care of my body a little bit more and be, I guess, sensible in the way I play.
"I need to pace myself better, not so much in games where it's hard to do so because you always want to give 100 per cent but during the week in training.
"Obviously with the amount of games you're involved in, the week becomes more maintenance than actual physical preparation.
"It's all about making sure your body is in the best possible condition to play well at the weekend."
Emerton makes no secret of his desire to play in a more central role on a regular basis for Sydney in the coming season.
"Obviously I have to use my strongest assets to the best of my ability and if the time comes that I can't run up and down the right wing all day long I would relish a more central role," he explained.
"Playing in the centre does not involve as much running.
"When that time will come, who knows?
"It's definitely something I am conscious of and when the time is right I'll adapt my playing style and hopefully that will let me to play on for a few more years."
Sydney coach Ian Crook told The World Game two months ago that he was toying with the idea of using Emerton and now departed Nicky Carle in the hole behind an out-and-out striker in a Christmas tree formation.
Recent events would suggest that Emerton could be the recipient of an early present.
New signing Alessandro Del Piero could well replace Carle in the role.
"That would definitely appeal to me because I want to be involved in all the play as much as I can," Emerton said.
"If I play in a more central role that would give me the opportunity to do that.
"On the wings you can be a bit isolated depending on how a match pans out, which is how I felt in some games last season.
"In the middle it's down to yourself and how much you want to get involved in a game.
"One of my best games for Sydney was probably the one against Gold Coast United when I played in the middle and we came from behind to win 3-2.
"I'd love to be a central part of this team but as always I'm 100 per cent committed to doing what's best to the team.
"I'd play anywhere for Sydney FC, even in goal.
"I haven't spoken to Crookie about this but as far as where I'll play this season we're still debating that.
"I've played a lot of my football in Europe in the middle of the pitch so it's something I'm accustomed to and I really enjoy.
"This could well be my role with Sydney this season and I would gladly accept that responsibility if given to me."
Emerton, who played for Feyenoord for three years and Blackburn Rovers for eight seasons, said the experience of his first season back in Australia provided him with ample proof that domestic club football was moving in the right direction.
"We were not lying, Harry Kewell and I were both surprised by the standard in the A-league," he said.
"I think physically and technically it's adequate standard.
"The big difference between European leagues and the A-League is that here in Australia we have a lot of young players.
"It's not a problem in itself but the decisions such players take on the field sometimes are the wrong ones.
"When it comes down to decision-making I think that in the top leagues the players make the right decision nine times out of 10 while over here they might get it right only seven times out of 10.
"That's the key … knowing when to do the right thing at the right time."
Promising striker Tomi Juric has been lured to Western Sydney Wanderers on a two-year deal as coach Tony Popovic sets about tweaking his Premiers’ Plate winning side for next season.