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'I just felt relief' - Duke hoping to build on drought-breaking goal

Goal.com logo Goal.com 12-04-2017

Australian striker Mitch Duke has spoken of the relief he felt at ending his one-year scoring drought for Shimizu S-Pulse.

Duke, who missed majority of 2016 with a serious knee injury, scored Shimizu's second goal in their 2-0 win over Kashiwa Reysol on Saturday.

The 26-year-old had last scored on March 26, 2016 and, having targeted 10 goals in the first half of 2017 before his contract expires, Duke was thrilled to open his account.

"I just felt relief," he told Goal .

"I feel like since I've been back fit I've been saying to myself that I wanted to get off the mark as soon as possible when I started playing competitive football matches again."

Duke added: "I don't feel like I need to earn a contract here. I have been here for almost two-and-a-half years now. They know what I am capable of and what I bring to the team.

Mitch Duke targets breakout year in Japan

"Unfortunately I lost pretty much the whole season last year due to my knee injury and since then I've literally only played 120 minutes of competitive football and to have a goal already with only that amount of minutes I'm happy and hope I can build on this and put my hand up to play more.

"It is an important time for me but I'm not worried about the contract situation."

The former Central Coast Mariners striker is likely to get a chance to add to his maiden goal of the season on Wednesday night when Shimizu host Consadole Sapporo in the J.League Cup.

Djite and Duke strike in Asia

Duke's only start of the season came in that competition last month.

The Sydney-born forward came off the bench in the J.League for the fourth time this season against Kashiwa and made an impact in just 10 minutes on the pitch.

In the 92nd minute, Duke headed a long-ball down to strike partner Jong Tae-se and the North Korea international's return pass allowed the Australian to gallop forward before beating Kashiwa's goalkeeper in a one-on-one.

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Jong (26 goals) was the top scorer in Japan's second tier last year as he led Shimizu back to the J.League and has continued his strong form in 2017 with four goals and an assist.

"He has just kept up his great form from last season and is really high on confidence. Nothing can stop him at the moment," Duke said.

"But it's obviously great to have such an influential player in our team and personally it's obviously great for me to learn from and ask advice.

"I've been very lucky with the time I've had with S-Pulse having some great strikers on our books in Peter Utaka and Genki Omae and now Tae-se."

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