Central Coast Mariners striker Roy O'Donovan says he's more than ready to shoulder the burden of carrying one of the youngest squads in the A-League on his well-travelled shoulders.
The former Premier League marksman is one of just three players over 30 up in Gosford, and will be relied upon to boost an attacking-third that netted just 26 goals in 27 matches last season.
Only last-placed Newcastle scored less.
In his most recent stint in Singapore, he bagged 15 goals in 24 appearances and was voted the league's most valuable player.
And on the eve of Saturday's season-opener against Perth, the 30-year-old said he welcomed the challenge of leading from the front again.
"I don't feel old, but I feel like I'm one of the senior players at the Mariners," O'Donovan told AAP.
"I've been around around; I played a lot in England, played abroad, represented my country, so any experience I can pass on to the younger lads, I'm happy to do so.
"But I can do a lot of that by how I play on the pitch, and that starts on Saturday."
O'Donovan, who spent three seasons under Manchester United legend Roy Keane at Sunderland in 2007-10, arrives in Australia as an unabashed fan since the inaugural season 10 years ago.
"I watched every week, and over the past decade it's definitely improved," he said.
"There's a lot of technically gifted players here, a lot of Socceroos obviously play in the league, and a lot of good foreigners come in as well."
He was also well-acquainted with the Mariners' reputation as the league's perennial underdogs, and said the club would have to draw heavily on those qualities to compete in this year's competition.
"I'd heard of them and seen them play - it's a small club that punches above its weight," he said.
"It's a real community club. I think I've met every supporter in the last three months.
"It's close to a lot of people's heart in Australia because it's the underdog that always fights its way out of trouble and is always challenging above the odds."
To that end, bookmakers have predicted another long season for the Mariners and will battle neighbours Newcastle for this year's wooden spoon.
But O'Donovan believes they have the talent to surprise.
"What gives me confidence is that it's all fresh with new players and new coaching staff," he said.
"We're young, but we bonded well over pre-season. Young players hungry to do well? We'll punch above the odds again."