FOR a footballer, positive recognition from ones peers is the ultimate accolade.
FOR a footballer positive recognition from ones peers is the ultimate accolade.
This Hyundai A-League pre-season, young Mariners defender Trent Sainsbury has more than earned the acknowledgement and attention of his teammates thanks to his commitment in training and performances in friendly matches.
Sainsbury joined the yellow and navy two seasons ago from the Australian Institute of Sport, and has so far played 20 games for Central Coast in Australia-s top flight.
With inspirational leader Alex Wilkinson having left the Club in the close season for K-League heavyweights Jeonbuk Hyundai, the former Qantas Australian U20 international has undoubtedly sensed the opportunity to truly begin making his name on the domestic scene.
“-Wilko- [Alex Wilkinson] was a great captain … he was Mr Mariner,” Sainsbury said. “Now that he-s gone there-s big boots to fill and with Patrick [Zwaanswijk] alongside me I can hopefully learn a couple of things off him and hopefully we become a great pairing at centre back.”
Indeed, it is Sainsbury-s ambition to double his all-time Hyundai A-League appearance tally this term. To do that, he-ll need to ensure he remains a regular in Graham Arnold-s team.
“My goal for this Hyundai A-League season is to score my first Hyundai A-League goal, play more than 20 games and to make it to the finals,” he said.
With his targets set and stated, Sainsbury-s efforts during the Mariners- preparation phase have been duly noted by his teammates.
In fact, no less than seven of the Central Coast squad have identified the defender as the most impressive Mariner this pre-season.
“He-s had to take over from Alex Wilkinson and he-s filled some big shoes there. He-s doing a great job for himself and for the team so hopefully he can keep that form going,” long-time Mariners midfield general John Hutchinson said.
Flying left-back Josh Rose added: “I think Trent Sainsbury-s probably impressed me the most this pre-season. With ‘Wilko- leaving to Korea there was a spot open for the young boys to fight for and to battle out for this pre-season and I think he-s really stepped up and shown that he-s capable of doing the job.”
And while Mariners Head Coach Arnold expressed his delight in Sainsbury-s progress, he took time to warn the youngster that he-s not yet the finished product.
“I-ve been impressed with all the players … but losing Alex Wilkinson quite late I think Trent Sainsbury so far is doing a magnificent job next to Patrick,” Arnold said. “But the kid knows there-s a long way to go and he-s got a lot of work still to do.”
“We-ve also got Zac Anderson and Brent Griffiths in our squad who are both experienced in the Hyundai A-League so there is good competition in defence and Trent is aware that he needs to perform to earn a spot in the team.”