Five Minutes With… Nathan Sherlock

National Youth League defender Nathan Sherlock in his short career has had more than his fair share of injuries. The Orange born product is determined to put all that behind him and is enjoying being back on the park as he looks to make his mark in the National Youth League.

National Youth League defender Nathan Sherlock in his short career has had more than his fair share of injuries. The Orange born product is determined to put all that behind him and is enjoying being back on the park as he looks to make his mark in the National Youth League. Sherlock one of two surviving players from the Mariners inaugural NYL squad has already tasted representative football having been selected to represent the Qantas Joeys in Laos in 2006.

A tough, uncompromising defender, Sherlock displays maturity and composure beyond his tender years - traits which saw him tantalisingly within reach of a dream debut in the Hyundai A-League towards the back end of last season, only for a horrific knee injury to intervene. Nathan Sherlock talks to ccmariners.com.au about growing up in Orange, representing Australia and the frustration of his injury setbacks.

For more information about Nathan click here to see his profile

What age did you first start playing football and what attracted you to the game? I first started playing as a young kid back home in Orange when I was five. My dad used to play the game and watching him probably attracted me to it and I loved being active in general.

Did growing up in rural NSW help or hinder your development? Growing up in rural areas is probably very different to growing up on the Central Coast or in Sydney, as you don-t have as many opportunities as you would in those areas. I was very fortunate as there were a number of good coaches already based out in Orange who worked with Football NSW. I think playing out there definitely makes you want to work a little harder so you can get the same opportunities that the Sydney kids get. There are players from the country who have achieved at a high level, which inspires you. For example Adrian Leijer is from Dubbo originally and Nathan Burns is someone I-ve always looked up to. I trained a lot with him as a young kid and been inspired by him and now he-s getting the chance to play in Greece at a big club. It was always an eye opener going to Sydney and seeing the players of your own age.

Do you feel it motivates you more to succeed against your city rivals? I think there are limited opportunities in the country and because your involved in so much sport out there if you really want to make a go of it you have to concentrate on it from a young age. You have to be prepared to make sacrifices for example I had to move away from family and friends when I left home. It definitely motivates you more to succeed because it really becomes make or break for you because you put so much effort and energy into achieving your dream.

Can you explain your experience with the Joey-s Australian side? It was an unbelievable experience to represent your country as its something you dream of when you first start playing sport. I was very fortunate to be picked in that squad and get the chance to go overseas and play in those qualifiers for the Under 17 World Cup in Laos. Unfortunately we didn-t get the results were hoping for. It was fantastic and something you-d love to do again if given the chance.

What would you rate as the strengths of your game? I would probably say my positioning on the park and I-m starting to feel a lot more comfortable on the ball and have good composure when in possession.

What areas do you feel you need to work on the most? I think there always areas to work on even if you think you-re strong in a particular skill you always need to work on it to get to the next level. All you need to do is look at the first team guys when you train with them they-re very quick and skilful at drills, so I-d probably have to say I need to work on everything in my game to keep improving.

You-ve been involved with the NYL for two seasons how has it changed in that time? In the inaugural season I think a lot of teams struggled to adapt to all the travel to games particularly when we were flying in and out of cities. I think the quality and standard of the competition has definitely grown since last year and that-s not taking anything away from our players or from any of the teams that played last season. The competition is giving more kids the chance to aspire to be professional footballers and I think it-s going to become even more competitive as a result of that.

You-ve had a shocking run of injuries at inconvenient times has the setbacks made you mentally tougher? I have been battling a couple of nasty injuries and it does probably affect you mentally for a time. They happened at a time when I was pushing for a first team spot and yes they were a setback. Really I probably shouldn-t be playing at the moment with the injury I-ve had but mentally they do make you stronger and when you come back you just try to make it back fitter and stronger and try to come back and prove yourself all over again.

What teams and players did you follow growing up? I-m an Arsenal fan and a player I really admire although I hate to say it at the moment is Thierry Henry. I-m a bit upset at his ‘hand of frog- but he was always a favourite player to watch. Other players I used to admire were Patrick Vieira and Dennis Bergkamp.

The Mariners across the club are renowned for defensive prowess has the first team defenders worked with you on defending? Defence is obviously a very important part of any team if you have a solid defence all it takes is for your attack to get one goal and you win the game. The first team are defending very well at the moment with the best defensive record in the league and keeping clean sheets. This can only happen when you defend as a team across the park from the front to the back and your back four as your last line of defence must be well organised. The girls who are sitting on top of the table at the moment are also defending very well. Tony and Browny have really cracked down on our defence this season but we still need to work on it. The first team defenders Alex Wilkinson, Nigel Boogaard, Chris Doig and Andrew Clark in particular have been very useful in helping us to learn defensive patterns. They help us identify areas where we should squeeze and drop off and all those types of things. They teach you the little things that will go a long way in helping us improve our game.

How have you found defending against strikers with Hyundai A-League experience? Having the A-League players play in the games is helpful to the younger players as it helps guide the guys around the park and gives the players more freedom. We-ve been lucky with the players who have dropped down for us Nik Mrdja has been outstanding as has Andrew Clarke. On the weekend we came up against Jamie Harnwell and Eugene Dadi both experienced players who have been around the game for a long time. Coming up against players like that is great because you want to improve and get to their level and show that you can match it with them physically and tactically.

What are your goals for the rest of the season? The big one is to stay fit and healthy and stay away from the injury sideline. We-re in solid form at the moment and our team goal has always been to make the top four and compete in the final series. To come home with a championship medal would be very special and hopefully if my form warrants it I can get a professional deal.