As Neil Kilkenny prepares to face former club Perth Glory, Western United coach John Aloisi has backed the veteran midfielder to maintain his cool in the A-League Men's match.
Kilkenny has every reason to play with a point to prove against Richard Garcia's team, after being frozen out at the back end of the 2020-21 season having been told in May he wasn't wanted at the Glory.
The 35-year-old was quickly snapped up by Western United in August and debuted for the club in Aloisi's first ALM match in charge against Melbourne Victory last weekend.
That game ended in a narrow 1-0 loss but Aloisi said it showcased Kilkenny's qualities, ones he expects him to show in Friday's clash at AAMI Park against his old team.
"Hopefully he's not too fired up. I've spoken to Neil already about it because he was sensational last week, the way that he can start the play and the way that he coaches out there," Aloisi said.
"He's a leader also in the middle of the park.
"As long as he keeps a clear head, and I believe he will, because we need him because he's important for us."
Aloisi says he doesn't know the full circumstances behind the end of Kilkenny's time at Glory, having made himself an integral part of that club when he joined in 2018 after a falling-out with Warren Joyce at Melbourne City.
The ex-Socceroos striker said whatever had happened at other clubs between Kilkenny and coaches was in the past and he was unconcerned similar tensions could arise between the pair at Western.
"I know him really well and there's that mutual respect for each other," said Aloisi, who remembers Kilkenny as part of an extended training squad in Holland leading into the 2006 World Cup.
"Neil's one person that if he respects you, and I'm talking about as a coach, as a person, I don't think you're going to get any issues out of Neil.
"I'm not worried at all.
"I don't know what happened in the past. I don't care about what happened with other clubs."
Australian Associated Press