Heart's Bolton reaches another milestone
Melbourne Heart goalkeeper Clint Bolton's future beyond this season will be determined by whether he's worn out his welcome, rather than winning the A-League title.
Veteran gloveman Bolton, 36, will add yet another milestone this weekend in a season where he virtually achieves one weekly, moving to No.2 for all-time national league appearances.
This season he has already passed Sergio Melta and Damian Mori, played his 450th match, and will now overtake Paul Trimboli when he plays his 453rd top-flight game - for the Heart against Perth Glory at AAMI Park on Sunday.
Former Socceroo Alex Tobin holds the record with 522 NSL appearances.
Bolton has made it clear he won't decide his playing future until the end of the season.
Yet he is determined winning a fifth national league championship to add to two NSL titles and two A-League grand finals with Sydney FC won't sway his thinking when it comes to making that call.
"I don't think it (a championship) will be the determining factor whether I play on or not, but I guess to go out on that sort of note would be a nice thing," Bolton said.
"I just don't want to overstay my welcome.
"I want to go out at the right time, I don't want to drag it out in any way.
"I come to the end of each season, and that's when I make a decision - how's the body, how's the mind. Tick those boxes, and if it's good enough, then I keep going."
"If not, it'll be over."
Bolton and the Heart have had to manage his body after his early season was derailed by a chronic groin problem.
The plan of working smarter rather than harder is paying off.
Bolton is in superb form and was brilliant again in fending off Gold Coast United's late charge last weekend to salvage his side a 1-1 draw.
Few have contributed more to the Heart's cause than Bolton, who won the club's player of the year gong in their inaugural season and has continued in a similar vein to help the club surge into the A-League top three.
The Heart have received some good news with midfielder Jonatan Germano set to return from injury to cover the lengthy loss of skipper Fred.
Fred re-injured his groin just 40 minutes into his return against Gold Coast, and faces several weeks on the sidelines.