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Ten A-League players to watch in season 2009/10

As the A-League season prepares to kick off, has targeted 10 players to watch for 2009/10. One player from each club has been selected as's Player to Watch for the new season, taking into account excitement, value to the club, marketability among other criteria.

The following are the 10 Players to Watch for the Hyundai A-League's fifth season, 2009/10:

Adelaide United - Mark Rudan

Adelaide United signed the key defender just days before season kick off and he could prove to be the difference between the Reds being an average side or a very good side.

At 33, Rudan is experienced, possesses great leadership (leading Sydney FC to the inaugural A-League championship in 2005/06) and is determined to succeed.

He has spent the last two seasons overseas in Japan with Avispa Fukuoka and in the Swiss League with FC Vaduz and his return to Australia is somewhat of a surprise.

But Rudan's profile in the local game and knowledge of the A-League will make him an invaluable asset.

The fact that he is reuniting with his old Sky Blues and title-winning teammate Iain Fyfe at Hindmarsh Stadium means coach Aurelio Vidmar can put his defensive worries to bed and concentrate on other areas of the pitch.

The signing of Rudan may prove to be an unlikely masterstroke.

Brisbane Roar - Mitch Nichols

This could be the absolute breakout season for 20-year old Nichols.

An attacking midfielder who has already been capped at senior international level and is a Young Socceroos regular, Nichols is embarking on his third A-League campaign with the Roar.

There is a big buzz surrounding the blonde from Southport who has been touted as 'Tim Cahill with a surfboard' and if last season's performances are anything to go by, then 2009/10 will prove to be a success for him.

Five goals in 12 appearances for Frank Farina last term showed a glimpse of what Nichols is capable of and we expect him to be become a Roar regular this season.

Central Coast Mariners - Michael McGlinchey

This name is not very well known in Australia but his past suggests that big things can be achieved.

Born in Wellington, New Zealand, McGlinchey made his senior debut with Scottish giants Celtic in 2005 as an 18-year old and was touted as the next big thing to come out of Celtic Park.

He also represented Scotland at U20 level before injuries and indifferent form cut his time in the green and white hoops short (after a loan spell at Dundee United) and he now finds himself in Central Coast Mariners colours.

The 22-year old midfielder can also play up front which provides coach Lawrie McKinna with options if required and the unknown quantity that he is may take some teams by surprise.

In an otherwise run of the mill squad, McGlinchey looks to be the man with the most scope coming out of Gosford this season.

Gold Coast United - Joel Porter

This may seem an odd choice given that Gold Coast United have signed a plethora of quality players to their inaugural squad but we believe that Porter can be a surprise packet this season.

He may prove to be the perfect foil for reigning A-League Player of the Year Shane Smeltz who has jumped ship to the glamour club and with a brilliant scoring record in recent seasons in England, could be hard to stop for any defence.

At 30, Porter has learnt enough in over five years at Hartlepool United to bring goal scoring opportunities to the A-League and with a star-studded midfield including Jason Culina and Zenon Caravella supplying the ball, the new franchise may be very hard to stop.

Porter's record of over 20 goals for Hartlepool last season bodes well for a fruitful term in front of goals with United in 2009/10.

Melbourne Victory - Surat Sukha

Another relatively unknown name, Sukha comes to the reigning champions with a great rating from his homeland.

The Thailand international defender can also play in midfield and has pace to burn which will make him a valuable ingredient for Ernie Merrick's title defence.

The 27-year old has spent his entire professional career in Thailand so a move to Australia may take time to settle but his ability is unquestioned as is proven by his regular selection in the national team in the past few years.

Sukha may at first find it hard to break in to the Victory squad but when he does, expect it to be a hard task for Merrick to leave him out again.

Newcastle Jets - Fabio Vignaroli

The announcement today that Newcastle finally signed their marquee man is music to Jets fans ears.

Vignaroli is a 33-year old playmaker with precision passing ability and deft touch who sharpened his craft in Italy, making him a hard man to negate.

Some of us have already seen the former Serie A midfielder in action in Australia (in the Asian Champions League with the Jets) and I'm sure we were all as impressed as coach at the time Gary van Egmond was.

However, with van Egmond now departed, Branko Culina has Vignaroli at his disposal to deploy in an attacking role which will give the Jets some added bite and creativity in the forward half.

North Queensland Fury - Fred Agius

Once again, you may question this selection but almost every other media outlet in the land will have Robbie Fowler as their man to watch.

25-year old Agius is a prodigious talent who could have turned his back on the sport and played Australian rules football and is yet to really reach his true potential.

After a solid pre-season under the tutelage of former Rangers star Ian Ferguson, Agius is ready to make a splash in the A-League and with the influence of Fowler may prove to be a handful in the centre of the pitch.

Agius has represented Australia at U17 and U23 level which shows his ability and he has now been given the chance to experience the A-League where he is sure to be a hit for the new franchise.

Perth Glory - Mile Sterjovski

Sterjovski is almost a class above the rest of the strikers in the A-League.

It may be a big statement but the 30-year old is a quality player who just had a tough time with Derby County last season.

A Socceroos regular, Sterjovski has scored important goals for both club and country in the past and the Glory moved heaven and earth to secure him.

He has a solid goal scoring record in Europe and is ready to put last season behind him and guide the Glory into the finals and back to their old halcyon days.

Sydney FC - Karol Kisel

The Slovakian midfielder was chosen by new Sydney coach Vtiezslav Lavicka to come with him from Sparta Prague, indicating the Czech tactician has a high regard for him.

Kisel has enjoyed a prolific career as an attacking winger, representing the Slovakian national team over 20 times along the way.

He comes to Sydney as the club begins to rid its glamour image and it seems to fit his no-nonsense attitude perfectly.

Kisel will take the competition by storm this season with marauding runs, pinpoint passes and a knack for hitting the back of the net.

Wellington Phoenix - Chris Greenacre

The only thing that got Greenacre over the line is that no other Wellington player really fits the bill.

The Phoenix squad seems to be fairly barren when searching for potential stars or players to watch and only Greenacre's goal scoring ability gets him the nod.

The 31-year old Englishman began his career with Manchester City in 1995 but his career has seen him represent eight other clubs before signing with the Phoenix in April this year.

He spent the majority of his time in England with League One outfit Tranmere Rovers scoring almost 50 goals after a stint with Mansfield Town that saw him net over 40 times from just over 100 appearances.

Greenacre may prove to be the shining light in an otherwise drab season for the men from across the Tasman.

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Andrew Slevison
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Andrew Slevison

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