Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat insists everyone in his squad will get their chance by the end of the season – and then it's up to them...
And he said Jai Ingham was a shining example after the winger has impressed for Victory in the last two games with his role in Besart Berisha’s goals against Western Sydney Wanderers and Melbourne City.
Muscat said after the derby that Ingham was “knocking on the door… therefore I can’t take my mind off him” and felt the 23-year-old was an illustration of persistence after playing five games this season.
“Jai’s had an impact and he’s a classic example of working hard and then for when you get your opportunity to keep it,” Muscat said.
“He’s had an influence on the last few games, from that perspective he’s doing what’s asked of him and he’s keeping himself in shape for when he does get an opportunity, he’s not letting anyone down.
“Everyone from now to the end of the season will be required at some stage, it’s just making sure you’re prepared and you’re ready.
“That’s one thing at the moment, the spirit amongst the group is really high.”
Muscat along with captain Carl Valeri both stressed the only disappointing performance this season was the Round 2 4-1 thrashing by Melbourne City.
The Victory boss was happy with the club’s overall position heading into the new year as they lock horns with Central Coast Mariners tomorrow night.
“I maintain our performances have been good, some of it in the last couple of weeks has been exceptional,” he said.
“The competency is where it has been for 10 weeks, but again it’s now we’ve got to a point where there’s good competition for places.
“The intensity at training, how everyone wants to play and make no mistake, everyone will be required.
“So it’s making sure if you’re not currently in the squad that you’re prepared well for when you do get that opportunity to keep yourself in there.”
Winger Mitch Austin was in contention after returning from an ankle injury while it is unclear whether defender Nick Ansell who recovered from a knee problem will take James Donachie’s position in centre-back.
Muscat was also not taking the struggling Mariners lightly and felt pace was their main strength in wide areas.
“I’m very wary of assumptions because if we don’t perform well, we don’t win tomorrow night,” Muscat said.
“There’s no point worrying about what the results going to be, we worry about our performance and the outcome of the performance will be a result.
“Naturally (Mariners coach) Paul (Okon) has done an exceptional job at Central Coast since he’s taken over.”