Decorated Canberra United legend Ash Sykes returns for the 2021/22 season. (Photo: Canberra United)

Coming out of retirement for a second time, Canberra United's Ash Sykes has dropped coaching for the season after rediscovering her love of playing.

The most capped Canberra United player has officially come out of retirement… again.

Ash Sykes originally retired at the end of the 2017/18 A-League Women to take up a coaching role at the club, but returned for the end of the 2018/19 season amidst an injury crisis.

Now, she’s making a second return to the top level. She’s joking that it’s her comeback tour, like a rock star picking up the guitar for one last show.

The 29-year-old made 113 appearances across 11 seasons in green, scoring 37 goals. This included a remarkable three premierships and two championships.

After a year off from playing football entirely before making a return to Canberra Olympic, the striker has rediscovered a love for the game again.

“Some of the coaches out there would disagree me, but coaching sucks compared to playing,” Sykes laughed.

“It’s so much more fun on the field. I thought I’d try and rival John Farnham with the comebacks. This is number two, so let’s see how many more.

“I’m still not finished. I played with Canberra Olympic this year and Nic, my sister, was my coach. The girls were awesome fun to play with… it made me find my love for the game again.

“I had Nic in my ear and a few other people. I thought there’s not many more years I’ve got to do this, so I better give it another crack.”

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Sister Nicole is also onboard Canberra United this season, but as a part of Vicki Linton’s coaching panel.

She’s also spent nine years with United as a player, but the two couldn’t be more different, with Nicole playing instead as a left back.

It’ll just be another layer adding to the reunion of the inaugural Canberra squad.

“I think we’ve worked out over the years how each other work, and she lets me do my thing for the most part,” Ash Sykes said of her sister.

“Vicki’s quite the same, she doesn’t try to overcoach players that have there a while, like Michelle [Heyman]. It’s awesome playing under her and Vicki.”

While Sykes says she’ll still have to build on her fitness base, what she’ll add as a senior head into the squad can’t be ignored.

She joins experienced signings in Margot Robinne and Allira Toby alongside NWSL pair Chelsee Washington and Ally Haran to support the talented but young group.

While they’re giving her a run around on the track, they’ll look to build cohesion quickly ahead of a fast approaching season start.

“[Training] is fatiguing, but it’s been awesome,” Sykes said.

“Canberra United always manages to keep the same mentality, which is awesome. There’s a lot of new faces around here compared to last time I was in the group, but the feeling around is still the same in the club.

“It’s such a wonderful part of Canberra United.”

Canberra United’s season kicks off on December 3 against Melbourne City at Viking Park.

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