Socceroos laud Trent Sainsbury for brave injury comeback
IT MAY not have resulted in success, but Trent Sainsbury's efforts to get himself fit to play Japan should be viewed as no less heroic.
Before Thursday the central defender had not played a game in more than two months having suffered a serious groin injury at June's Confederations Cup.
The injury has resulted in a frustrating sideline stint at Jiangsu Suning, but Socceroos medical staff did everything they could to get the crucial stopper to the line at Saitama Stadium.
Now, despite playing 90 minutes in the 2-0 loss to Japan, Sainsbury remains no certainty to play Thailand on Tuesday night.
"We'll take it one day at a time," Sainsbury said.
"We'll assess how things are, but I'm feeling good after the game."
Put to Sainsbury that he appeared to be pain-free on Thursday, the 25-year-old interjected to say he was "a little bit (sore) here and there".
Teammates have privately lauded Sainsbury's ability to put his body on the line.
And probed further as to just how serious his groin injury was and may still be, Sainsbury conceded the last two months have been "a bit of a grind".
"I didn't pull up too well after the Confeds Cup," he said.
"I was in bad shape, but I got myself fit for these games and hopefully I can kick on for the rest of the season."
Sainsbury could hold his head high for his performance against Japan, even regardless of his physical state.
But the player himself, "my own harshest critic", said it was far from perfect.
"I think from the outside looking in it might have looked all right, but I wasn't feeling the sharpest out there physically," he said.
"I didn't feel really strong in the one-v-one duels and, while I don't think it cost the team, it definitely could have helped the team if I was better in those situations."