I'm right, says Fred, for Mariners
On the eve of his 50th A-League appearance, Melbourne Heart skipper Fred has applauded the continuing improvement in Australia.
The 33-year-old midfielder began his A-League career six years ago with Melbourne Victory before stints with DC United and Philadelphia Union in the US.
He had a brief stint on loan at Wellington in 2008, before returning to Melbourne to play with the Heart in June 2011.
Ahead of Friday night's game against the league leaders Central Coast Mariners in Gosford, the influential Brazilian said the improvement in quality over that time has been huge.
"It's much better (the standard) than the time that I played with Victory," Fred said after training in hot conditions at La Trobe University on Thursday.
"The players are better too and I think that's why the fans are coming to watch and helping the league grow every single year."
With news earlier this week that Manchester United will travel to Australia for the first time in 14 years next July to take on an A-League all-star team, Fred said the game would be tremendous for those selected, and the league as a whole.
"I haven't played against them. It's a good experience for the players if they come and play against them. It's a big team, a big name in the world, and it would be fantastic for everyone," he said.
Fred said he is slowly returning to full fitness after off-season groin surgery and a hamstring strain hampered his start to the campaign.
"I'm good," he said. "I've come back from injury and I've tried to get fit and I feel much better now. I think I'm ready to play good - I'm getting there.
"I think I've put too much pressure on myself, to do things (like) I used to do it. But like I said, I'm getting fit and I hope I can play much better this weekend."