Melbourne Victory defender Nick Ansell is looking forward to coming up against former teammate and Central Coast Mariners winger Connor Pain in Gosford on Sunday.
Pain left Victory last season, a club he supported since childhood in a quest to search for more game time at the Mariners.
The 23-year-old has played all games this season alongside good mate Scott Galloway, who also left Victory last season for the same reason and has featured in 16 matches.
Ansell remains close to Pain at a personal level and the feedback was nothing but positive from Gosford with Snapchats igniting the banter ahead of Sunday's clash.
The Victory centre-back back also weighed into idea of expanding the A-League, believing Pain was an example of needing more room for players to develop.
“You saw him (Pain) a couple of years ago tear up Liverpool and he’s been in Young Socceroos and Olyroos squads,” Ansell said.
“If there were more opportunities for him in the A-League and other players coming through, it definitely gives them more game time and that’s a main thing young players are striving for.
“When you play at Victory you have such big players come in on the wing, Marco Rojas has just come back from Europe who also did so well in his year at Victory when he left.
“Then you’ve got Fahid (Ben Khalfallah) who’s a quality player, then Mitch (Austin) and Jai (Ingham) come in that are really pushing like Connor was. It’s definitely hard to nail down that winger spot with top players in there.
“That’s the main reason why he chose to move on and he’s really doing well up at Central Coast and they’re winning games.”
Ansell has been with Victory high school and has enjoyed regular game time over the years including involvement in the 2015 A-League Championship, downing Sydney FC 3-0 at AAMI Park.
He said after witnessing players coming and going over the years, it was important to take opportunities when they came.
Ansell has played 11 games this season, competing with James Donachie and Alan Baro, but was kept out of the squad after hurting his knee against Newcastle Jets in Round 8.
“You see players come and go and when you get your opportunity you have to take it,” he said. “It’s not just that one week, but it’s over a number of weeks. You have to perform to really nail a spot.
“I’ve been pretty fortunate over the last few years to be playing regularly. This year with the competition with the centre-backs here, it’s good, always pushing all three of us.
“It is hard to get a spot because you have such big players, even last year, Matthieu (Delpierre) coming in. It’s hard to get games over players like that.
Ansell said the flow of former Victory players doing well in the A-League, including Andrew Nabbout, was indicative of the club’s ability to give youngsters an opportunity.
“We’ve had quite a few players come through, Connor and Nabbout who are now doing well at other teams,” Ansell said.
“I think the quality of players we have around here especially the young ones as well is really high.
“It does push them really hard and that’s shown when players move on to other teams, nailing starting positions and doing well. Especially someone like Nabbout, second in the Alex Tobin medal tally now… it’s crazy.”