It’s almost derby day and Nick Ansell is desperately hoping he has done enough to convince Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat to put him straight back in the side for the blockbuster clash against Melbourne City at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.
With their continually growing profile as a major part of the Australian football landscape, derby clashes mean a great deal to the players.
After being ruled out of the first-round game against Brisbane Roar last Friday, due to a groin injury he sustained late in the week, Ansell is all the more eager to be out there on the field for this week’s big game.
The 22-year-old knows he has some stiff competition at centre-back with Alan Baro and James Donachie, who filled the roles in last week’s 1-1 draw with the Roar at Suncorp Stadium, also vying for starting spots.
“I hurt my groin two days before the [Roar] game,” Ansell told The World Game.
“It was only a slight setback, nothing major, but enough to stop me from playing that game.
“There’s a lot of competition at centre-back and I guess Kevin is still trying to pick what’s the best solution or combination between all three of us who are competing.”
Ansell said he’s now back to full training and with Muscat due to make his final selections after training on Friday he insists he’s raring to go.
“I’ve got no problem running now, it’s all good. I’m injury free,” he said.
“It was only a minor thing, but it just came at the wrong time for the Brisbane game and there was no point in pushing it when we’ve got a long season ahead.
“I guess Kevin would know who he’s going to play, but I’ll most likely get a fair idea of whether I’m playing or not at our last training session on Friday, when we practice set pieces as we do late in the week.
“You want to play every week and against City it’s a big game this week. It’s a massive one, that’s for sure.”
Muscat on Thursday named an extended squad of 18 for the game against City, with two players to be omitted, which included Baro, Donachie and Ansell.
“You can’t afford to have any bad games because the competition for places in the side is so strong,” Ansell said.
“If you do have a bad one, then next week you could be out.
“I’ve played in quite a few derbies now and they’re getting bigger and bigger and I think Victory have come out on top overall over the years, so hopefully we can do that again on Saturday.”
Also included in the extended squad is winger Marco Rojas, who was only due to return to Melbourne on Friday after being away on international duty with the New Zealand All Whites but is tipped to play some part in the game.
“Marco looked great in pre-season. I think he’ll be right on his game in the A-League this season, just like he was before he went to Europe a few years ago,” Ansell said.
source: the world game