Bitter Sweet Opportunity for Mathew Ryan

With regular custodian Jess Vanstrattan out for the rest of the Hyundai A-League season, Mathew Ryan has been given the opportunity to establish himself as the Central Coast Mariners new number one goalkeeper.

With regular custodian Jess Vanstrattan out for the rest of the Hyundai A-League season, Mathew Ryan has been given the opportunity to establish himself as the Central Coast Mariners new number one goalkeeper.

At only 18 years of age, Ryan has been gifted the opportunity to take the number one spot after Vanstrattan suffered a season ending cruciate ligament injury on the eve of the Mariners clash with Sydney FC match 2 weeks ago.

It-s a chance Ryan is determined to take with both hands.

"The day before the game we were doing a simple passing drill with Jess when he went down and let out a cry of pain," said Ryan.

"It wasn-t until half way through training I found out that he had unfortunately done his cruciate and fortunately for me I would be playing that weekend."

That incident marked the teenager-s debut in the Hyundai A-League against Sydney FC, before backing that maiden start up with another impressive display last week at home against Melbourne Victory. He regards these games as the highlights of his career to date.

"Easily the two biggest games of my career, a little bit nervous at first but all in all I think I handled the situation pretty well," said Ryan.

The young shot stopper-s nerves have been put at ease with the backing of Mariners Head Coach Graham Arnold.

"I can-t explain how it makes me feel just having the confidence of someone like Graham, who-s been coaching with the Socceroos for a good ten years.

"For him to have belief in me, makes me believe in myself. Hopefully I can come out again this week and prove my worth," Ryan said.

Ryan says that ex-Mariners goalkeeper Danny Vukovic is a mentor of his, and is someone who provides great motivation towards his on-field performances.

Vukovic got his first start in the Hyundai A-League under similar circumstances. He was also only a teenager when he replaced the then number one goalkeeper John Crawley who suffered a career ending injury.

"Danny has been in contact with me before both games and giving me bits of advice.

"I just listen to him because obviously he has been through it all before," Ryan said.

The Mariners- home game against Melbourne Heart this Friday night sees the side come up against ex-team mates Michael Beauchamp, John Aloisi and Dean Heffernan.

"We went to play Melbourne Heart in the first round and Heff (Dean Heffernan) came and saw the boys afterwards, it was good to catch up with him," said Ryan.

Ryan acknowledged that despite the friendship there would no doubt be some good natured banter between the Mariners and the ex-players.

"Hopefully the fans will be heckling them a bit and cheering us on."

The Central Coast Mariners will next be in action against Melbourne Heart this Friday, 10 September at Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford. Kick-off is at 8pm and tickets are available by CLICKING HERE or by phoning 132 849.

Mariners Memberships for the Hyundai A- League 2010/11 season are still available by CLICKING HERE or by calling 1300 767 442