South Coast talent Brendon Santalab insists he is capable of filling the potential void left by Wanderers star Youssouf Hersi as he eyes off a spot in Western Sydney’s starting line-up.
Hersi failed to surface in the second half of the Wanderers’ convincing 2-0 win over the Sky Blues and later left the ground on crutches, allowing Santalab to take the field in front of a record Sydney FC crowd of 40,388 at the Sydney Football Stadium on Saturday night.
The Dutch import will now face a race against time to be fit for this Friday’s clash with Adelaide United at Parramatta Stadium.
If he is unable to pull on the boots against the Reds, Santalab will more than likely be his replacement on the right side of Western Sydney’s attack after filling the void against Sydney FC.
The former Sky Blues attacker said he was ready to ‘‘step up’’ to the mark if required and was happy to play in the wide role.
‘‘It is not easy, but I played there for a long time,’’ Santalab said.
‘‘I played there in China for four-and-a-half years out wide but, here, it is a little bit different.
‘‘Wherever I am asked to play, I will do the job. I just want to be part of the team each week and contribute to win the league.’’
Santalab made his presence felt from the moment he stepped on the pitch in Saturday’s derby and had the chance to score with his first touch of the football shortly after the interval.
He was fed the ball just inside the Sky Blues 18-yard box, but couldn’t hit the target, spraying his shot high and wide into the travelling faithful.
‘‘I think I should have scored, and on another day it might have gone in, but overall I was delighted to play in front of a fantastic crowd,’’ Santalab said.
‘‘It is a tough one [that first touch], but hopefully next time it goes in.
‘‘The goals will come. As long as we are winning games it is not everything, we just need to win.’’
The Wanderers got the three points they desired away from home on Saturday night, in the pair’s opening derby of the season.
A sea of red and black flooded the southern end of stadium for the marquee fixture and Santalab believes it helped propel the travelling side to victory.
‘‘It is amazing. They are the best fans in the league, so for us it is like a twelfth man and we take them everywhere,’’ Santalab said.
‘‘So it is a credit to them for what they have achieved and done for the club.’’