Victim of his own versatility, Sydney FC’s Rhyan Grant ponders unlucky axing

Pragmatic: Defender Rhyan Grant says he’ll do what is best for the team. Photo: Kate GeraghtyFew players in the A-League can rival Sydney FC’s Rhyan Grant for versatility but that probably won’t be enough to save his spot in the starting side for Saturday’s trip to face the Newcastle Jets.
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Grant hardly put a foot wrong as a fill-in left-back in round one, a performance ordinarily good enough to ensure the spot would be his this weekend. But with first-choice Alex Gersbach likely to be fully recovered from international duty, Grant’s hollow reward may be a spot on the bench.

The 24-year-old knows he couldn’t have done much more against Melbourne City – his superb late cross to George Blackwood would have been an assist had the young striker converted – but knows he’ll probably have to make way for the teenage wunderkind.

“Every player wants to play, and whether it’s at right-back or left-back I want to get in there and prove myself to the coach that I can do the job and do it well,” Grant said. “But we all know what a great talent Alex is and he showed that last year. It wasn’t his fault he missed out last week because of Young Socceroos duty and you can’t hold that against him or punish him for that, so we’ll just see what ‘Arnie’ [coach Graham Arnold]  does this week at selection.

“Alex is a good mate and I couldn’t begrudge him coming in. I know it’s a cliche, but it’s true – you’ve got to put the team before yourself. This is the reality of being part of a strong squad.”

Grant has carved a niche for himself as Sydney FC’s Mr Fix-It, having played as an attacking midfielder, holding midfielder, right-back and left-back – even once at centre-half – since arriving at the club in 2008.

A right-sided player by nature, and perhaps now thought of as right-back, Grant doesn’t mind switching over.

“I’ve played there in the past and when I have played there I did well, even though it was a couple of years ago. When I was picked for the A-League All-Stars, I played that whole year [2012-13] at left-back,” he said. “Having a right-footer on the left side changes things up, I suppose, as you can cut in on your right or back yourself on your left – which I admit doesn’t happen too often.

“It’s probably a blessing and curse being able to play in different positions. I’d love to cement myself in one position and be guaranteed every week. But if you can’t, you have to adapt.”

The Sky Blues feel as though they should have beaten City given the way they finished the match but Grant said Arnold had been keeping the mood up at training.

“Obviously we weren’t too pleased with drawing but we knew in the second half we played a lot better and played to the potential we know we’re capable of and that put us in a positive mind-frame,” he said. “‘Arnie’ wasn’t too disappointed, especially with that second half. We can try to build on that and improve but the boys are still feeling positive and everything is looking pretty good this week.”

Although Sydney will arrive at Hunter Stadium as favourites the Jets may not be the pushovers many predicted if their shock 2-1 win over Wellington is anything to go by.

“It’s always a tough trip up to Newcastle and their win over Wellington will mean they’re confident and keen to put on a show in front of their own fans,” Grant said. “We just need to make sure we’re ready and able to match whatever they put up on the night.”

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