Melbourne Victory defender Tim Hoogland is excited about the prospect of finally being able to conclude the A-League season, but he'd just rather not have to go into a hub to do so.
After much delay, the A-League today revealed its plans to conclude the 2019/20 season – 27 games set to be packed into less than a month and mainly played in New South Wales.
The competition – suspended in March in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic – is set to restart on July 16 with a Melbourne Derby between Melbourne Victory and Western United. That fixture will likely take place behind-closed-doors at AAMI Park, however, that is yet to be confirmed due to Melbourne's covid-19 spike.
Aside from a fixture between Melbourne City and Western United four days later, which is also likely to be staged at AAMI, future fixtures involving Melbourne sides from that point are uncertain.
Victory are pencilled in to play three games – against Brisbane Roar, Western Sydney Wanderers, and Perth Glory – at Bankwest Stadium following their opener against Western United on the released schedule, with another fixture against Central Coast Mariners currently marked as TBC.
Whether the club is forced into a hub format to play those fixtures, or whether they will be able to fly in and fly out, remains unclear, with Hoogland revealing on Wednesday that he was just as in the dark as A-League fans.
“Yeah, I’m fit and it’s a really good feeling to know that the fixtures are out now,” he said.
“You never know what’s happening next, there’s still a bit of uncertainty with if we have to go to a hub or fly in and fly out. We’ll see what’s going on.
“I really don’t want to go to a hub because my family is here, I don’t want to leave my family all alone for a couple of weeks.
"I’d be really pleased with something without hubs, us being based in Victoria. We have to see what the A-League is deciding and then we have to see.”
One of the A-League’s most heralded recruits heading into the 19/20 season, Hoogland has battled a nightmare run of soft-tissue injuries throughout his first season in Australia – restricted to just six appearances and five starts.
Signed to a one-year deal, there was also a possibility that the German could follow his now-former captain Ola Toivonen and opt to return to Europe during the shutdown rather than extend his contract and see out the season.
But having made the decision to stay, the 35-year-old defender says he is fit, firing and ready to contribute to his club's run home.
“I think Europe was a little bit harder hit than here. Australia did it really good so far with the pandemic," he said. "My son went to school and all of this stuff, so we decided to stay here.
“I was fit before the pandemic, in the last weeks I made a couple of games. There’s always a bad feeling, a bad situation having had injuries.
“I haven’t gotten any injuries for the last four years before I came here. That’s the dark side of the game, injuries, and I did a lot of running and a lot of physical work in this break.
"I’m fit now and happy to play.”
And the former Schalke and Fulham man says that, despite the challenges of his first season in Australia, he’s open to the possibility of extending his stay.
“I’m definitely open to it,” said Hoogland.
“We have to discuss a lot of things, with what’s going on in Germany, how it’s going here. So, again, a lot of uncertainty at the moment but I’m open to anything.”