The 46-cap Socceroos veteran is now tipped to take the armband for the Socceroos in the World Cup qualifier against Kuwait tomorrow night after Mark Milligan returned to the UK with an injury.

But today he revealed why he had walked away from the remaining two years on his three year deal with then-Dutch champions PSV Eindhoven to take an apparent step down to join Maccabi Haifa.

Despite an apparent dream move for the former Central Coast Mariner, Sainsbury only played six games for PSV last season – with no improvement in sight for next season.

As the World Cup qualifiers loomed for the Socceroos, Sainsbury knew he was going to have to move to keep his international career alive.

Sainsbury – who spent a season on loan at Inter Milan two years ago – jumped at the chance to join fringe Socceroo Nikita Rukavytsya at Maccabi in the Israeli Premier League.

"PSV wasn't working out for me, getting minutes on the pitch, admitted Sainsbury today as he arrived in Kuwait for the match kicking off at 1.30am AEST on Wednesday.

"It's a great setup there, but at the same time, I gotta do what's best for me in my career.

"So moving to a club where I think I can get as many minutes as possible, and also play a European football, it's something I've always strive for.

"It's an important move for me."

Defensive partner Milligan, 34 returned to his club Southend United earlier today after a minor leg injury ruled him out of tomorrow night's game.

Coach Graham Arnold has rushed in Thomas Deng from the Olyroos camp in Sydney to replace him for the Kuwait clash.

“We didn’t want to take any risks with Mark so we arranged for him to travel back to his club for ongoing care,” said Arnold.

“Thomas was with us in October and November last year, and in June in Busan. He has now arrived in Kuwait and will provide a great defensive option for our squad.”