Sainsbury's nerves settled after solid Socceroos debut


Trent Sainsbury was so wrought with nervous tension before his debut against Belgium last Friday that he spent several hours in bed prior to the game bathed in sweat.

Having come through a searching inquisition with his reputation as a rising Socceroos defender enhanced, the only thing the 22-year-old is sweating on now is whether or not he will be in the starting side to face Saudi Arabia on Tuesday (AEST).

With coach Ange Postecoglou pledging to give uncapped Preston Northen End centre back Bailey Wright a run at Fulham's Craven Cottage, it’s uncertain how much match time – if any - Sainsbury will be afforded.

"I was sitting in my bed going over the list of Belgium players and looking at the clubs they played for (before the 2-0 loss) and I was sweating up and really nervous just thinking about the game," Sainsbury revealed.

"Usually I'm a good sleeper the night before games and that was no different but when it came to rest and nap time, it was a different story.

"I was twitching all over the place on my bed. The boys could see it and told me later in the changeroom before the kick-off to calm down and relax and just play my game."

Sainsbury, usually a study in relaxed and laidback, was so affected by the occasion that early in the clash in Liege he was struggling to catch his breath.

"The first five or 10  minutes I was literally gasping for air, I couldn't breath and I thought to myself 'if this is going to be the intensity level of the whole game I am going to have to come off at half-time'.

"But you learn from your mistakes. A couple of times I got too tight to (Divock) Origi ... that kid is incredibly strong, probably the strongest I have played against and he is quick too - so it was a double whammy.

"There were a few things to learn from and take into the next game. After the match I was just so hyped up and buzzing with all the messges from family and friends."

Sainsbury, who played alongside former Central Coast Mariners teammates Alex Wilkinson at the back with Mat Ryan in goal, has now regained his equalibrium.

And just as importantly, he has also won the approval of coach Ange Postecoglou, who while certain to give Wright a shot against the Saudis, said of the PEZ Zwolle stopper: "He did really well for his first game and it was great for us. He won't face a tougher assignment than that."

Sainsbury added: "I have got the big one out of the way now - and I will know what to expect next time.

"I realise the level I have to get to and hopefully one day I can do that. I went to Europe to try and win a place in the World Cup squad.

"But that didn't work out because of sprinkler reasons (a fall onto a sprinkler fracturing his knee cap during his Eredivisie debut) but this is a great chance for me to cement my spot and become an influential player for the Asian Cup.

"I can only do so much then it's up to the gaffer. If I am doing well for my club and playing 90 minutes each week then it's up to him to show confidence in me and put me in."

On the Mariners connection in the national team - which also includes skipper Mile Jedinak - he said: "When I first came to the Mariners, Wilko was captain and I was only a little kid. Maty Ryan was coming through the youth team with me.

"The sky's the limit for that kid ... his work rate is incredible, probably the highest of anyone I have seen.

"He's going to be one of the best in the world I think ... just give it another couple of years."

Then he joked: "I have been promoting him for how many years now trying to get him to Barcelona or somewhere like it. I just hope he remembers me in a few years tme when he's earning the big bucks!

"To see us all playing on this stage together is sort of surreal. It's a story you could almost make a movie about - but it's just great to be playing with mates."

Sainsbury insisted that despite a run of five defeats: "The boys are buying into what Ange is putting on the table.

"We can see that peformances are 10 times better than before and the boys are buzzing. We haven't dropped our heads or anything and we know we can do a lot better.

"We played some top teams at the World Cup and also the other night and we were not expected to beat them. But we are dsappointed not to have done better aginst Belgium."

Source: SBS