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The Socceroos’ lack of World Cup experience will be put to the test in Russia, though defender Trent Sainsbury prefers to think of the squad having “untapped potential.”
Bert van Marwijk’s squad are upping their preparations in a pre-tournament squad in Antalya, Turkey.
Underlining the scale of the task ahead, just seven players in the 26-man group have experience at the global event.
They are Tim Cahill, Mile Jedinak and Mark Milligan, who have multiple appearances, and Mathew Leckie, Mat Ryan, Massimo Luongo and James Troisi, who all played four years ago in Brazil.
Outside of veterans Cahill, Jedinak and Milligan it’s hard to think of more of an established name in the Socceroos squad than Sainsbury.
The 26-year-old A-League winner was the first defender on ex-coach Ange Postecoglou’s teamsheet when fit and was the Socceroos’ best player at last year’s Confederations Cup in Russia.
But he missed the 2014 tournament – like Robbie Kruse and Tom Rogic – through injury.
“It’s hard not to imagine what’s ahead. What’s at stake and what the possibilities of the games are,” he said.
“Every kid dreams of going to a World Cup and I’m still dreaming to this day.
“Until I’m there on the pitch I can keep dreaming.”
Other players were brought into the fold after the 2014 tournament, helping Postecoglou win the 2015 Asian Cup.
They include Aaron Mooy and Aziz Behich, with enhanced roles for Troisi, Leckie and Luongo.
These are the players that got Australia to the World Cup through the 22-match qualification process and are hell-bent on leaving their mark.
“This team has untapped potential,” Sainsbury said.
“We’re going to go on a good run in Russia. I can feel it, I can feel it in my bones.”
It’s currently survival of the fittest under van Marwijk, who has subjected the squad to double sessions under the hot Mediterranean sun each day of their training camp.
Sainsbury says he’s lapping up the hot weather training.
The centre-back, who plays for Swiss club Grasshoppers, was injured for the pair of friendlies against Norway and Colombia in March and is eager to secure his place in the final 23
“We’re training the hardest we possibly can at the moment,” he said.
“The way you train is the way you’ll perform on the pitch.
“If we bring our all in training we’ll bring the same in the matches when it matters.”
DREAMING OF A WORLD CUP DEBUT
Daniel Arzani, Aziz Behich, Josh Brillante, Milos Degenek, Jackson Irvine, Brad Jones, Tomi Juric, Matthew Jurman, Fran Karacic, Robbie Kruse, James Meredith, Aaron Mooy, Andrew Nabbout, Dimitri Petratos, Josh Risdon, Tom Rogic, Nikita Rukavytsya, Trent Sainsbury, Danny Vukovic