Rukavytsya commits to Perth

Perth Glory striker Nikita Rukavytsya has extended his contract with the club until the end of next season.

Perth Glory striker Nikita Rukavytsya has extended his contract with the club until the end of next season.

The 21-year-old Ukrainian-born forward was a surprise inclusion up front in Australia’s Beijing Olympic squad after scoring six goals in eight matches for the Glory towards the end of last season.

And after scoring within 90 seconds of coming onto the pitch in last weekend’s 3-3 draw with Newcastle, the Glory have locked him in for another season, ensuring the club will receive a handsome transfer fee if he does happen to move on next year.

But for Rukavytsya, who grew up in Perth after moving from Ukraine when he was 14, the contract extension shows the club has faith in their up-and-coming striker.

“Its awesome news,” said Rukavytsya before training on Thursday. “I had a pretty good second half of the season and the club offered me a new contract and I obviously accepted it.”

“Last year, (the) first part of the season wasn’t very good for me, (but) in the second, (coach) Dave (Mitchell) gave me an opportunity and I did pretty well and got a call for the Olyroos and was lucky to get chosen for the Olympics. It was an amazing experience and helped me a lot to develop as a player.”

“Since I came to Australia, I’ve wanted a chance to play for the Glory and now playing for them, they’ve been one of the best teams in the league back in the day and I want to see that happen again.”

Mitchell, a former Socceroos striker himself, acknowledged Rukavytsya will probably go on to play in Europe eventually, but said for the time being, Perth was the right place for him to hone his craft.

“He’s a great talent, he’s a good kid and he wants to learn,” said Mitchell. “He’ll go onto bigger and better things down the road but at the present time, the best place for him is here in Perth.”

“He’s got a lot of the attributes to be a great striker, he’s got pace, he’s got a good left foot, a cultured left foot (and) he doesn’t panic in good situations.”

“If we have a successful year, I’m sure the clubs will be banging on our door and that’s exactly what Nikita wants and that’s what the club wants. We want to establish good players here and then when the right opportunity comes for them and the club; it’s good that he does move on.”

“He went to trial with (Bundesliga club) Hannover and I think he realised that he wasn’t quite ready and that’s what we initially said, go and have a look, have a feel and then come back and have a big, better season next year and then potentially, if you’ve had a good season, then you can go,” Mitchell said.

But, while Rukavytsya will be fired up for a big game against Sydney FC this weekend, the club’s problems with injuries have continued, with defender-cum-forward Jamie Harnwell ruled out of the match with a hip injury.

Harnwell joins experienced defenders Hayden Foxe and David Tarka, along with midfielders James Robinson and Naum Sekulovski on the sidelines, forcing the club to take on a youthful defence for the second match in a row.