Sydney FC's Rhyan Grant has set his sights on building on his 21 minute return to the Hyundai A-League, starting with more time in the Sydney Derby on Saturday night at Pirtek Stadium (kick off 7:30pm)
Grant’s recovery after tearing his Anterior Cruciate Ligament has taken twelve months but his return to fitness has come at the perfect time, with star midfielder Milos Dimitrijevic suspended for this weekend’s game.
Sydney FC Head Coach Graham Arnold says he will wait until the last possible minute before settling on his starting eleven but Grant appears to be one of three possible solutions to the selection headache, along with Peter Triantis and Ali Abbas.
“I’d love to get out there and make a start”, said Grant.
“Obviously it has been a long time and my last start was actually against the Wanderers last season, so it’s pretty ironic if that was to be the case.
“There are plenty of players that can play that position because we’ve got great depth in this team but if I do get the chance to play, whether that’s starting or off the bench, I’ll be over the moon.”
Sydney’s impressive squad depth wasn’t the most comforting thing for Grant to have in the back of his mind during his extended stay on the sidelines, but he believes it gave him the encouragement to come back a better player.
“It’s good for the team to have a lot of depth but when I was injured I did notice that it would be tough to get back into the team," he said.
“I suppose it just pushes every player to do better, to train hard and try to get back in there and prove themselves."
Although his recovery was hampered by a minor setback in pre-season, Grant’s patience appears to have paid off and he is now approaching full fitness.
Two appearances for Sydney FC's Foxtel National Youth League side and a return to the Hyundai A-League off the bench against City last week have him ready to put that struggle behind him.
“When I first came back to training and was making tackles it was a little bit nerve racking but once I was out there on the weekend it sort of just felt normal and I didn’t even think about it," he said.
Grant also says he is relishing the possibility of making his starting return in the Sydney Derby but he is expecting the Wanderers to shake off a poor start to the season and lift for the game.
“The ladder doesn’t really do them justice. The results haven’t been there but this weekend, I don’t think that means much," said Grant.
“It’s a great rivalry, great for the league to have and I love to play against them. It’s a great atmosphere.”
With Sydney FC starting to find some of their best form, Grant may find it hard to nail down a starting position and he admits that what he needs is game time.
A starting role in the derby this weekend would be a big step towards re-finding the form he had before his injury, when he was one of Sydney FC’s strongest performers.
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