FORMER A-League and Young Socceroos player Jimmy Downey is hoping he can overcome an injury that ended his professional career and make an impact for the Ballarat Red Devils.
The 27-year-old right-hand winger/defender is one of 17 contracted names locked in by the Red Devils for the 2015 National Premier Leagues Victoria 1 season.
Downey is an exciting addition to the playing roster, having spent time with Perth Glory, North Queensland Fury and Wellington Phoenix in the A-League, as well as a stint with Sparta Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
He also made 13 appearances for the national under-20 team during his junior career.
A persistent knee injury, which has required surgery, kept Downey sidelined since leaving the Phoenix in 2013, but he is now ready for a return to the park.
“I hope I can get right, but I just really want to enjoy it. I want to play for my teammates, for (Ballarat coach) James (Robinson), the club and for all the right reasons and just to have fun,” Downey said.
He said he was confident he could make an impact for the side should his speed remain a weapon, but admitted he didn’t know what to expect after such a long time out of the game.
He said his injury was a loading issue that would impact his ability to train at times during the year.
Downey stayed with the Red Devils all of last season while doing rehabilitation on his troublesome knee and admitted the pain of being relegated remained a driving force for both himself and the team.
It is hoped the new recruit will be right to play in round one against Sunshine George Cross on February 21.
Robinson said he was confident Downey would be able to take the pitch this season.
“I wouldn’t sign him if I didn’t,” he said. “If he gets on the park, he’ll make a difference – big time.”
Robinson has had a long association with Downey and played with him during his stint at Perth Glory.
The Red Devils will continue their lead-up to the 2015 season with a practice match against Moreland Zebras on Saturday, a charity game against an all-star team from the Ballarat and District Soccer Association next Tuesday, a meeting with Dandenong Thunder on February 7 and Box Hill on February 14.
All games are home fixtures at Morshead Park.