Craig Goodwin may left Sparta Rotterdam already but there’s an Australian at the relegation battlers helping their cause to avoid the drop.
Little-known Australian holding midfielder Kenny Dougall has made 29 Eredivisie appearances this season for Sparta, who face a relegation play-off against Dordrecht from 12.45am Friday AEST.
The ex-Brisbane Roar man, who turned 25 this week, was part of the Sparta side which avoided relegation last term, thanks to Goodwin’s goal and double assist in a 3-1 win on the final day over Go Ahead Eagles.
Sparta’s situation is more dire this term, participating in the convoluted play-offs but Dougall said last season’s experience could only assist their cause.
“I think it can only help us,” Dougall told FourFourTwo. “It’s never a good situation to be in.
“Having gone through it last season, we know what we have to do. Last season we were in a better position.
“The team itself has been playing quite well since (manager) Dick Advocaat came in. The results just haven’t changed too much.
“The self belief is there.”
Dougall left Brisbane for the Netherlands four years ago, initially joining Telstar before moving to Sparta whom he helped win promotion.
He said there was something thrilling about promotion-relegation battles in Europe.
“It’s tough. People outside the club don’t really know what’s going on always have an opinion,” he said. “They’re entitled to that.
“Internally not too much changes. Everyone realises we need results.
“It’s a difficult situation whereas everyone wants to be winning every week and be safe.
“The tension is always there. We went through something similar last season. When you do survive the tension goes. You feel so much better.
“You don’t notice it until it’s over. We’ll see at the end of May.”
Dougall has another remaining on his Sparta contract and while he’s happy in Rotterdam, his future isn’t certain should they suffer relegation.
“I’m still contracted for next season as well,” he said.
“Survival is first and we can sort out other stuff in the off-season, if I feel like I want to move.
“First and foremost we’ve got to stay up. It’s an important few weeks.”
Dougall has not played in Sparta’s past three matches having barely missed a minute previously all season but is hopeful of being reinstated against Dordrecht.