Trent Sainsbury is in line to return from a knee injury next weekend and the timing couldn’t be better for the Socceroos World Cup hopeful.
The 22-year-old PEC Zwolle defender has been sidelined for the past two months after fracturing his patella on his Dutch debut in a freak accident when he landed awkwardly on a sprinkler.
However, Sainsbury told FourFourTwo he had resumed full training last week and hopes to be available for selection this Sunday when Zwolle visit RKC Waalwijk.
“The injury is coming along well,” Sainsbury said.
“The knee still has some soreness, but it’s manageable and it’s not getting any worse. Hopefully I’ll be up for selection next weekend.
“I can still play while it’s not fully healed, but it was a hard one to diagnose because they’d never seen it before.”
The uncapped Australian defender’s return is timely ahead of Zwolle’s Dutch Cup final date against Ajax the following weekend and with 2014 World Cup selection in the forefront of his mind.
Sainsbury was selected for Holger Osieck’s EAFF East Asian Cup squad last year but was the only squad member not to play, while current Australia boss Ange Postecoglou said he would have called him up against Ecuador last month had it not been for injury.
On selection for Brazil 2014, Sainsbury said: “You’d be stupid not to be thinking about it.
“It was a big boost for me when Ange came out and said I would have played against Ecuador had I not got injured.
“It gave me extra motivation to push myself and get fit again. If I was in his sights then, then hopefully I can get to that stage again to be up for selection for that final squad.”
Despite his return to fitness, Sainsbury insisted he was no sure bet to slot straight into the Zwolle starting XI, but felt his naivety may play in his favour.
“It’s a tough one because we’ve got three centre backs who are playing well,” he said. “I don’t know anyone’s names over here, so I don’t have that fear factor of going up against anyone.
“But I spoke to the coach (Ron Jans) and he knows I want to push hard for this World Cup spot, but he’s got to juggle 23-24 players at the same time and keep them happy.
“I need to work harder than the rest of the players and show what my capabilities are.”
Sainsbury’s current boss Jans is an enigmatic figure in the Netherlands, one of the longest serving top flight coaches who had great success with FC Groningen midway through the last decade and at Heerenveen in 2012 before being replaced by Dutch great Marco van Basten.
The ex-Central Coast Mariner said he feels Jans is the coach who can get the best out of him with his personal style.
“He’s a very hands-on coach,” he said. “I feel that I need a coach who is able to communicate with me personally. He’s the coach for me.”
It was Jans who thrust Sainsbury into the spotlight, making his debut only days after signing from Central Coast in late January, which the player admitted was a mad rush.
“I was jetlagged and falling asleep on the bus on the way to the game,” Sainsbury said.
“Going out for the warm-up I had no idea what was going on, I just stayed five metres behind and copied every one else.
“I didn’t know any of the boys’ names, I was learning them on the pitch. It was a bit hectic but I thought I did okay given the conditions. I’m glad I got my debut out of the way.”
After all that, Sainsbury will be hoping for a less dramatic second game, ideally on Sunday against RKC.comments