Returning Smeltz likes team spirit
As if North Queensland Fury didn't have enough to worry about.
Concerns over their gruelling schedule, Queensland's flood victims and of course their A-League future are starting to take their toll on the Fury.
But they should not expect any mercy from New Zealand international striker Shane Smeltz when they take on Gold Coast United at Skilled Park on Friday night.
Smeltz has returned to United on a deal until the end of the season, following a miserable spell with Turkish side Genclerbirligi.
Smeltz scored just once for club in nine appearances, before falling out of favour with new coach Ralf Zumdick, who took over in October.
"I am pleased to be back. It's a good feeling - I look forward to what lies ahead for the Gold Coast for the rest of this season," Smeltz told AAP.
Plenty of goals if history is any guide - Smeltz found the back of the net an incredible 19 times in 26 appearances for United last season.
Miron Bleiberg's fourth-placed team are looking for a spark to remain in top-two contention in the absence of captain Jason Culina (Asian Cup duty) and injured Brazilian midfielder Robson.
And United hardman Steve Pantelidis reckons Smeltz has already provided it.
"Smeltzy coming back has given everyone a lift and you can already see that in training," he said.
"It's great to have him here with us again as he's a top guy and a proven goalscorer.
"We're all delighted he's back and we can't wait to see him out there on the pitch scoring goals again."
Rock bottom North Queensland already have enough on their plate.
They have been given until January 31 to raise $1.5 million and convince Football Federation Australia they should partially fund them for at least another season before the club's community ownership plan starts in 2012-13.
North Queensland have also been preoccupied by the state flooding's horrific toll, saying it was a distraction in their 1-0 loss to the Jets in Newcastle on Tuesday night.
Fury coach Franz Straka was so emotional, he failed to attend the post-match press conference at Newcastle.
Then there's their hectic schedule.
Straka has made his thoughts clear on their tight program, made all the more demanding by their re-scheduled clash with the Jets.
"I am adamant it was a game that never should have been played," he said on the Fury website.
"We travelled to Newcastle to play the match all the way back in October last year and when we arrived the pitch was not up to standard because of a motocross event a few weeks earlier and it had to be cancelled.
"To me that should have been it. No rescheduling, just three points to the North Queensland Fury.
"The fact we didn't (play) was the Newcastle Jets' problem and yet we are the ones that have been made to suffer - it is a joke."
In another blow, the Fury will be without inspirational striker David Williams (knee).
"Willo is our top goal scorer and most threatening player - we need other boys to step up," returning North Queensland defender Simon Storey said.
But United were also digesting bad news - livewire midfielder Zenon Caravella announced on Thursday that he would join Adelaide United next season on a two-year deal.