Melbourne City forward Lachie Wales says he put in the hard yards on the training field to earn his starting spot ahead of out of favour marquee Bruno Fornaroli.
Wales, 21, was a protégé of Central Coast Mariners before joining City this season and scored his first A-League goal in City’s 3-0 win over Newcastle Jets after starting five of the six games he’s played this season.
His chances have come during the growing row over marquee striker Bruno Fornaroli and speculation over Uruguayan's future at City after he was suddenly dropped from the side.
Wales laughed off suggestions about being favoured by Joyce over Fornaroli but praised his English boss for the faith shown in him.
“He’s been great, I really like working for the gaffer,” Wales said. “If you train hard enough, he’ll give you an opportunity and it’s no secret he’ll give you a chance.
"Not just one chance, but two or three to really prove what you’ve got. He instils a lot of confidence into the young boys and I think, in the A-League, there are a lot of people who don’t want to turn to youth.
“Warren just says ‘Whoever trains the best will play’ and that’s what you’re seeing at the moment.”
Wales said he had been confident it was only a matter of time before he scored his first A-League goal.
“The boys have been giving me a bit of stick at training for not putting them away and Sunday was one of the ones that went in so I’m pretty happy about it,” he said.
“I kept getting into good positions and the gaffer has just told me it’ll come and once one goes in, hopefully a few more will start to fly in. Once you get the first one, hopefully a few more come in.”
Wales was a late developer in football after making his debut for the Mariners at 19, he admitted – his next big goal now is to make the Olyroos squad.
The 21-year-old says his preferred role is playmaker or winger, but Joyce has been keen to play Wales as a striker after dropping Fornaroli.
“My attributes always seem to lead me to go to the wing because I’m fast and quick,” he said.
“When the gaffer told me I was going to play as a striker, we had a chat about it and I hadn’t played there since I was about 13. In my juniors, I played as a striker, but once you get older, you always seem to get pushed to the wing as an Australian player.
“It is pretty natural that you get to roam around a bit and try and pick a weakness on the centre-backs. I think that goal is based purely on my speed, just getting in behind Nigel Boogaard and finishing it off.”