Dani Sanchez happy to shoulder the load
No pressure, Dani.
Wellington Phoenix midfielder Dani Sanchez is seen by many as the panacea to the club's current attacking woes, and the Spaniard happens to return to the ranks just as owner Gareth Morgan chose to have a public grumble.
Sanchez hasn't been sighted this season as he quietly worked his way back from knee surgery following a pre-season training collision with Alex Smith.
He made a decent impression last season with his deft touch and vision, although coach Ricki Herbert usually played him out of position on the wing.
Herbert said Sanchez would "certainly play a big part" in tomorrow's date with high-flying Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium, although he had yet to decide whether that would be starting or off the bench.
The already daunting trip got even tougher yesterday, as leading striker Jeremy Brockie was ruled out with a hamstring injury.
Brockie tweaked the muscle at training on Thursday and failed yesterday's fitness test.
Sanchez, Louis Fenton, Tyler Boyd and Benjamin Totori are all options to replace Brockie in the XI.
"For me it's not pressure," said Sanchez when asked about the perception he was the man to add spark to the Phoenix.
"I think I am a different player, I can supply the team with different things. I can help the midfield, I can support the strikers and also the wings, create chances.
"If we win three or four games in a row, no-one is speaking about me. But now we lose against Sydney and some people say we are missing Sanchez. I think I can supply the team with something different than the other players."
Sanchez said that he preferred playing in a central, "No 10" role, but "if I have to play wing again I will do it. I am pretty confident in myself and ready to play."
Hindmarsh holds bad memories for the Phoenix, who in October were dudded by referee Jarred Gillett's decision to award Jeronimo Neumann a penalty when he collapsed after minor contact from Ben Sigmund.
"The last game in Adelaide, obviously we had bad luck with the decision but we have to carry on," Sanchez said. "Sometimes the referee will help you, sometimes the referee don't help you.
"But I think we are a really strong team, we have to keep going and believing that we can beat any team in this league. We have to play positive football and believe in ourselves."
Sanchez said he didn't know how long he would last tomorrow after playing 150 minutes across two recent games for the Phoenix A team.
He had been impressed with Adelaide, who have recruited well in the attacking third with imports Neumann, Fabio Ferreira and Marcelo Carrusca.
Socceroos playmaker Dario Vidosic is yet another threat.
"I've been watching Adelaide and they've shown they are one of the strongest teams in the league," Sanchez said.
"They have really good players this year, like Ferreira is doing really well, Jeronimo, Carrusca, so I think it is a pretty strong team, not only one player.
"They are doing really well but we have no fear to go there. I think last time we showed we can win there, we were unlucky, but we go with a good mentality."
The Dominion Post