Socceroos winger Robbie Kruse has declared he’s feeling as good as he did before he suffered his cruel knee injury as he looks forward to taking on Japan in next week's high-profile friendly in Osaka.
Kruse was one of the Socceroos most important players and was a regular starter in the Bundesliga until he ruptured his ACL and missed the 2014 World Cup.
But after a long road to recovery the 26-year-old is not only getting back in favour at club side Bayer Leverkusen but also with the national team.
He started both the recent friendlies against UAE and Qatar last month which was a good starting point for him.
And he is desperate for a crack at Japan in next Tuesday’s friendly in Osaka.
“I’ve started to get a bit more game time now on the road coming back from my injury and I’m starting to feel more comfortable in myself and my knee,” Kruse told FFA TV.
“I’m starting to feel like I’m getting back to the way I was before I did my injury. It’s been a tough road but I’m really looking forward to this next game.
“For me (the last two friendlies) were massive. It was my first two games from the beginning in close to a year.
“I feel like I went back to my club and I’m a different player now. I’m a lot more confident and better in one-on-one situations.
“It helped me get back into the team at Leverkusen, I’ve been coming off the bench regularly and I think I’m close to getting into the starting 11.”
While admitting the clash with Japan is a “step-up” to what the Socceroos faced last month, Kruse believes the challenge of playing Japan on their home turf will inspire Ange Postecoglou’s squad.
“It will be a difficult test but obviously when we play against opposition that’s very strong we seem to step up and play decent against them,” Kruse said.
“The last time we played them (a 1-1 draw in a World Cup qualifier in Saitama last year) we were a couple of minutes away from winning.
“Hopefully we can put in a better performance than that and hopefully try and take the game to them and see how good we can do.”