Arzani aiming to wow Lennon as he zeros in on Celtic return


Daniel Arzani could be just two weeks away from resuming full training with Celtic as his recovery from the agony of an ACL nears completion.

The budding Socceroos magician is due back in Glasgow on Monday after a brief break in Sydney for a final week of rehab with the Hoops.

With his teammates then jetting off for a pre-season camp, Arzani will return to parent club Manchester City for a rigorous week of tests on the left knee which crumpled and buckled just 20 minutes into his Bhoys debut back in October - leaving him sidelined for the last eight months.

In the intervening period Brendan Rodgers - the coach who signed off on the 20-year-old’s two-year loan at Parkhead - has departed for Leicester to be replaced by returning Hoops messiah Neil Lennon.

The club completed the triple treble, leaving Arzani with plenty to aim for next season as he seeks to make up for lost time.

Asked if he has even more to prove in front of a new coach, Arzani replied: “For me (having Lennon in charge) doesn’t really make a real difference - the manager is there and will pick the team on who’s training best.

“It will be a matter of who he thinks is good for the team, and I’ve just got to make sure I’m that person.

“There are a lot of great players in the team - young and also experienced and for me it will be just about playing at the best level I can.

“I was obviously rehabbing for a lot of last season, so it’s a bit difficult to judge.

“But from what I heard from the boys everyone really liked working with the boss and I’m looking forward to it.

“He’s very passionate about the club. He played for them and managed them previously and you can see his passion on the sidelines during games.”

Arzani revealed that during his recovery journey his Celtic-based Socceroos teammate Tom Rogic - who had his own injury issues last season - offered ceaseless encouragement and support.

“Tommy is one of my closest mates in that team and he’s really looked out for me, especially when I first went there and didn’t really know any of the other boys,” added Arzani, whose FIFA World Cup cameos in Russia announced him as a star in the making.

“He’s a top player and a great guy as well off the field. He was injured a fair bit himself last season and we were in touch and talking a lot.

“With any kind of rehab - especially with a knee - there are minor setbacks all the time but they were small and didn’t hold me back much.

“I’m really on a high right now going back into the new season.

“During this whole period I’ve learned a lot. It’s really difficult doing your ACL at any point in your career - let alone when you’re on a high at making your debut at a new club and have so many things to look forward to.

“It was right before the Asian Cup as well and it was a trying time for me but I think I’ve come out the other end a little bit better off for it.”

Arzani isn’t setting too many long or even medium-term goals just yet, with Australia’s 2022 World Cup campaign kicking off in September and coach Graham Arnold keen to have his X-factor weapon available once again.

“For me right now, honestly, the most important thing is getting my body right - making sure my knee is good, I’m fit, I’m healthy and I’m fast and I’m ready to play again.

“Everything after that I’m sure will take care of itself.”

When pressed on how he views himself in the scheme of things, Arzani added: “As you can see now Arnold is doing a job and with the last camp in Busan (where Australia lost 1-0 in a friendly to Korea Republic) he brought in a whole new group of boys.

“He’s not really sticking to the script and is doing his own thing, which I admire a lot.

“For me, it’s just getting my body back to where it should be. I’ve been talking to Arnie and he has asked me for updates regarding my injury.

“I just want to get fit and from there we will see what happens.

“Against Korea the boys did really well and didn’t deserve to lose. I think a draw would have been a fair score and the flow of the game maybe even slightly tilted in our favour.”