Socceroos skipper Mat Ryan isn’t letting lack of game time in La Liga erode his confidence or swagger, insisting: “I don’t see myself as a number two."
Ryan - who turned 30 on Friday - hasn’t started a Primera Division game for sixth-placed Real Sociedad since mid December, but did appear twice in the Europa League in February.
RYAN OUT TO PROVE HE'S REAL DEAL
- Australia number one Mat Ryan is battling to force his way back into Real Sociedad's starting line up.
- Despite lack of game time in Spain Ryan has been a tower of power for the Socceroos during their turbulent World Cup campaign.
- Though he's digging in at club level a possible move might be on the cards in the northern summer if there's no change in his fortunes.
More Socceroos news can be found on FTBL.
However, he’s hardly put a foot wrong in the nine appearances he’s made in all competitions to date, underscoring the fine margins which separate him from current incumbent Alex Remiro.
When Ryan arrived in San Sebastian from Brighton, via a loan spell at Arsenal, 10 months ago expectations were high that he would be coach Imanol Alguacil’s first choice.
But the gloveman succumbed almost immediately to a knee injury which required surgery - setting him back and handing the initiative to Remiro in the joust for the top spot.
After enduring past adversity at both Valencia and Brighton, Ryan is well equipped to handle the peaks and valleys of top flight football, and refuses to allow frustration or any sense of simmering injustice cloud his mind.
“Every player wants to be playing regularly but unfortunately I haven’t had as much game time as I’ve wanted,” Ryan told FTBL.
“When I have played I feel like I’ve done quite well and I think the club and the fans here in Spain recognise what I can offer the team.
“I don’t see myself as a number two, and I think the perspective of the club is that we don’t really have a number two.
“It’s more a case of having two number ones. I’ve just tried to knuckle down and give all that I can and try and convince the manager to pick me as his first choice.
“He makes his decisions and that hasn’t been the case lately.
“Probably getting injured in pre-season didn’t help me along with the team also doing well.
“At the beginning of December we were second with a lot of clean sheets and now in April we’re leading the league with 18 in all.
“When you put those factors together it’s hard to have a leg to stand on in order to change the goalkeeper.”
Imbued with a collaborative nature and devoid of hubris, Ryan is supportive of his rival, declaring: “Alex is a good goalkeeper with many attributes which work well for him.
“On the other side of course it’s challenging not playing regularly because that can make you a little rusty.
“But, in my case, I don’t think that’s been an issue - I feel like in the games I’ve played for Arsenal, Real Sociedad and the national team my level hasn’t dipped and I’ve put in some really strong performances.
“I’ve got to make the most of the opportunities that come my way, and we’ll see what happens.”
Contracted until 2023, Ryan - a serial saviour for his country during a tempestuous World Cup campaign - vowed to continue giving everything for his club.
“It’s a great environment and a fantastic football culture,” he said.
“I’ve learned the language and I’m making the most of every minute here.
“I’m more mature now and I always embrace positivity over negativity in every facet of my life - of course including football.
“I won’t lie - it’s a kick in the teeth when the team is announced and I’m not playing but I’ll just keep my head down and do everything I can to change that. The rest is out of my control.”
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