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Ansell wary of A-League Pain

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 16/02/2017 Ben McKay

The emergence of former teammate Connor Pain at Central Coast Mariners has convinced Melbourne Victory defender Nick Ansell of the need for new A-League clubs.

Pain, 23, left Victory in the off-season and with the benefit of game time in Gosford is blossoming into one of the league's most dynamic young wingers.

The left-sided attacker has already started more games for the Mariners than he did in four seasons at Victory.

That's no surprise to Ansell, also 23, who became close with Pain after emerging from the youth ranks at Victory to press for senior selection together.

Ansell said he wasn't surprised to see Pain, who first caught the eye in a friendly against touring Premier League side Liverpool four years ago, taking his chance.

"Connor's a quality player and we saw him a couple of years ago tear up Liverpool," he said.

"He's been in Young Socceroos, Olyroos squads ... more game time, that's what young players are striving for.

"He's been doing really well and he said to me a couple of weeks ago he's really enjoying it up there. It'll be good to have a battle with him."

Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou has made more opportunities for young players the focal point of his push to add teams to the A-League, a move slated for the 2018/19 season.

Ansell said the wing was a particularly tough position for young Australians to make their name, given it's where bigger clubs tend to load up on top talent.

"When you're playing at Victory you just have such big players come in on the wings like Marco Rojas. Then you've got Fahid (Ben Khalfallah) who's a quality player," he said.

"It's definitely hard to nail down that winger spot with top players like that there."

Victory were far from their best in their most recent outing, a 0-0 draw in Newcastle last Monday night.

Ansell said the club needed to lift for all occasions - not simply the bigger matches - and that included Sunday's trip to Gosford.

"You play a lot of big games at this club. Maybe a Monday night in Newcastle when the crowd isn't there (isn't a big game)," he said.

"We're footballers and we need to perform week in, week out, no matter where we're playing. There's no excuses."

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