SUNSHINE Coast export Zach Anderson is manoeuvring himself into position to take a permanent spot, when it materialises, in the starting line-up with his A-League club, the Central Coast Mariners.
The 21-year-old former Sunshine Coast Fire defender has grabbed hold of an opportunity to prove himself in replacing veteran Dutch import Patrick Zwaanswijk, who is out injured.
"Patrick has done a fantastic job and I've just come in while he's injured and I'm doing the best job I can," Anderson said yesterday from Terrigal, on the New South Wales central coast.
"I'm really enjoying my football at the moment and obviously it's nice getting a few games and hopefully I'll get some more in the back half of the season."
Zwaanswijk, who at 37 is the oldest player in the team, is tied to the club until at least the end of this season.
A chance to learn from the respected Dutch defender, as well as working with coach Graham Arnold, was one of the big reasons Anderson signed with the Mariners in May last year.
"He's not just a player for me - he's one of those players who you can learn so much from on and off the pitch," Anderson said of Zwaanswijk. "He's a player that I will continue to learn from and hopefully improve me as a footballer during my time here."
In Zwaanswijk's absence, Anderson has made the right moves and more than held his own on the field.
He played a strong 30 minutes off the bench in the club's 2-2 draw against Melbourne Victory on November 16 and ran on in the starting line-up for the first time in the team's 2-1 win over traditional rival the Brisbane Roar on November 25.
Wearing the No.5 jersey, he was in the run-on side that lost to Sydney FC on December 27, and backed up in the team's 1-0 victory over Perth Glory on New Year's Eve.
While Anderson is mindful that the veteran Zwaanswijk cannot play forever, he is equally careful to keep his eagerness in check, knowing he needs to build his value and solidify the respect of his fellow players.
"He's still running well and playing well and he's still fit," Anderson said of his mentor.
"I'm a young footballer and hopefully I'll take my opportunities when they come."
A former member of the Queensland Academy of Sport, Anderson signed with the Mariners for two years last May after playing for the now-defunct Gold Coast United for a season.
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