Left-sided speedster Evan Berger is determined to break back into the Perth Glory squad in time to prove he deserves a place at the club beyond this season.
Berger, 25, is out of contract and yet to play a senior game this season after surgery last May to repair a recurring hamstring injury.
He returned to full training last month and has proved his fitness in five appearances with the youth team, but has been unable to break back into the senior side.
Time is running out, with just five games left in the regular season.
"I'm trying to win a new deal so hopefully I can get back in the mix," Berger said. "I'd love to stay here. There are no guarantees in football, but my body's feeling good now.
"We've got excellent strength and conditioning staff here that have put me through pretty rigorous rehab, so I'm very confident that it'll hold up."
Since taking over from sacked Ian Ferguson earlier this month, interim coach Alistair Edwards has often said he would give every player in the squad a chance.
Berger will push his case on the training park, the National Youth League finishing last week.
But Berger, who can play as a left full-back or winger, knows he faces stiff competition from fringe Socceroo Scott Jamieson, veteran Dean Heffernan and Japanese youth international Ryo Nagai.
"We've got a very good squad here and some good youngsters coming through, so it's very competitive for spots," Berger said.
"Hopefully I can do enough and help the team push towards the finals."
Berger played 49 A-League games, including 43 with Melbourne Victory, before he joined Glory in 2011.
The former Australian under-20 representative said his long rehabilitation had been a challenge.
"It was a hard slog but at the end of the day it was six to eight months to hopefully not have any more problems with it for the rest of my football career," he said.
"It was a long time, but for the longevity of my career it was the best thing to do."
Glory take on star-studded Sydney FC at nib Stadium on Saturday in their most important game of the season to date.
Another defeat would all but spell the end of Glory's ambitious late bid to qualify for the finals. DID YOU KNOW? 49 The number of A-League games Evan Berger has played