Singapore international Safuwan Baharudin says he is now focused on recovering from a back injury as quickly as possible after a premature end to his loan spell with A-League club Melbourne City.
Safuwan was scheduled to be part of Melbourne City's last regular season game against Adelaide United this weekend, as well as next month's A-League finals' series. But the enforced departure of the 23-year-old utility player was announced on Friday night by Football Association of Singapore (FAS).
"Injuries are part and parcel of a footballer's life," he was quoted as saying in an FAS statement. "My focus now is on getting treatment for the injury, and making a full recovery."
After impressing on Melbourne City's January training tour of Abu Dhabi, Safuwan joined Melbourne City on loan in February. Becoming the first Singaporean to play in Australia's elite competition, he played in six matches and scored two goals.
"I had a memorable time at Melbourne City and I learnt a lot about what it takes to be a professional player," he said. "I wish to thank everyone at the club for making me feel at home. In particular, I want to thank Coach John van't Schip for giving me first team opportunities, and for all that I have learnt there.
"I also want to thank FAS President Mr Zainudin Nordin and FAS General Secretary Winston Lee."
Including the training tour, the versatile Safuwan played in four different positions during his Melbourne City stint: centre-back, right-back, left-back and central midfield.
Once he recovers from injury, Safuwan will be available to bolster LionsXII's leaky defence as the Singapore club try to pull clear of the relegation zone in the Malaysia Super League (MSL).
"I am disappointed that my injury has forced me to end my stint with Melbourne City. These are lessons I will never forget," he said.
Melbourne City are sixth on the A-League table but will take the number five spot in next week's finals' series because of Perth Glory's ineligibility due to salary cap violations.