Terry Antonis has vowed to battle his way back into favour at Sydney FC after being dumped into the youth team by new coach Frank Farina.
Antonis, who last month broke through for Australia at the East Asian Cup qualifiers in Hong Kong and attracted interest from Fulham and Aston Villa, is refusing to be downcast by his demotion.
The 19-year old said: "I'm staying positive and working hard and hopefully my chance will come again.
"The boss (Farina) has spoken with me and there are things he wants me to improve in my game and I am working on those. It's obviously disappointing but I have to do what the coach says and keep working on my weaknesses.
"There is competition all over the field for every position – it's hard for everybody. I still hope to play a part again this season and help the team be successful.
"In a way it's good for me to at least get the game time (in the youth league) and to be able to keep playing and hopefully making those improvements to my game."
Antonis’s axing is even more surprising in the light of him signing a new two year deal at the club before Christmas in the same week in which Fulham officially asked permission for the attacking midfielder to come to London to trial with the Cottagers in January.
The Sky Blues refused to grant that request and with Jason Culina displacing him in the starting line-up, Antonis has been overlooked entirely for the Sky Blues' last two games – the 2-2 draw in Perth and the 2-1 home win over Melbourne Heart.
Due also to Young Socceroos and senior national team commitments, he has featured in just seven games this season and has started just five matches.
Sydney CEO Tony Pignata insisted his axing purely a "football decision" by Farina and had no connection to Antonis’s desire to test himself in Europe.
"Jason is in the squad right now and is doing okay and that's the main reason. It has nothing to do with then Fulham, situation at all.
"It's Frank's selection decision and Terry is a very good player and is valuable to us. We wouldn't have signed for a further two seasons if that wasn't the case."
Antonis remains committed to testing himself at some stage, adding: "I am keeping my head up and staying optimistic about things.
"It's every player's dream to test themselves against the best at some stage in their career and I am no different. But right now I am just going to push as hard as I can to get back in the first team squad.
"I still think we are a big chance of making the finals."
Gui Finkler's injury time time winner sent Melbourne Victory within a game of the A-League decider as it edged past Sydney FC 2-1 on Friday night.