SYDNEY (AP) – Socceroos midfielder Brett Emerton says he can handle the weight of expectations on and off the field as Sydney FC's marquee signing for the Australian A-League season.
The 32-year-old Emerton was released early from his contract with Premier League club Blackburn to sign a three-year deal with Sydney FC last week. Most of Australia's leading players work abroad, and some have struggled to meet local expectations when they've returned late in their careers to join the domestic competition.
''I'm ready for it. I wouldn't have made the decision if I wasn't,'' Emerton told a news conference Tuesday. ''I'm confident I can come back here and have an impact on the league. That's why I've chosen to come back now and not in a few years.''
Emerton will immediately link up with the Australia squad in Brisbane as it prepares for Friday's World Cup Asian qualifier against Thailand. Sydney will kick off its A-League campaign in October against Melbourne Victory, which recently signed former Leeds and Liverpool forward Harry Kewell.