Ryan fighting hard to reclaim Valencia starting spot

Australia goalkeeper Mat Ryan isn't letting an early-season injury setback, a change of coach and a battle for first team football to dilute his dream of turning his commitment to Spanish thoroughbreds Valencia into a tour de force.

Mathew Ryan

Mathew Ryan has a fight on his hands to be Valencia's No. 1 again this season Source: Getty Images

Fit again after recovering from complications surrounding a meniscus surgery, Ryan is locked in a tussle with Jaume Domenech for a starting spot for Los Che, with new coach Gary Neville, and his assistant brother Phil, so far handing the baton to the local.

But the challenges have only hardened the resolve of Ryan, 23, who in an exclusive interview with The World Game Show, to be screened Sunday at 1pm on SBS, admitted his frustration at his stop-start initiation to life in La Liga.

“It’s a new experience for me, missing football due to an injury,” said Ryan, who has made just six appearances in all competitions this season and was on bench for the 1-1 draw against Barcelona last weekend and again in the 2-0 home loss to Lyon midweek as Valencia were dumped from the UEFA Champions League and into the UEFA Europa League.

“I’ve got to learn how to adapt and deal with it. The best players in the world like Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar all have injuries, it's just part of the game.

“I came here from Club Brugge to go to the next level, with a club that matches my ambitions as a player and a person. And fingers crossed over the next few months, the toughest times are behind me.

"I understand the situation I am at the moment; it's been frustrating, there’s no shying away from that.

"All I can do is work hard and be as professional as I can and get myself in a position where I can be in the team again. I want to give the side an extra something."

Ryan, who penned a six-year deal re-iterated his desire to be Valencia's first choice and deliver on his destiny, admitted that Domenech has been in eye-catching form, adding their rivalry is based on mutual respect.

“We respect each other’s ability and I’m not going out to make somebody's life difficult," he said.

"I take my hat off to how he has performed in my absence but I am taking nothing away from myself and my ability either. I want go help the team and I feel I can offer something also."

The man who signed Ryan, Nuno Espirito Santo, has been a casualty of Valencia's spluttering form, and after starting in the 1-0 defeat against Seville and the Copa Dep Rey win over second tier Barakaldo, Ryan has yet to win the favour of the Neville brothers.

“Gary has only been here a few days and initially is trying to make little changes. It’s difficult to come when you don’t have too much time to change things," Ryan said.

"Obviously, it’s his first head coaching role, and he’s making tweaks to get us performing better. He wants us to be closer as a team, and is working on ways to achieve that.

"It’s been a funny season to date; turbulent and up and clown, hence the change (of coach).

"I had a similar situation when I first came in at Brugge, with a change, and hopefully we can all react in a positive way under Gary and Phil now, and they can bring some of the incredible experience and success they have had as players and transfer that down to us and make us successful.

"I speak for myself and the team in saying that we give everything to try and win every game and I think we can turn the season around."

That mission starts on Monday (AEDT) when eighth-placed Valencia travel to face Eibar, who sit one place below them.

"I still think we are capable of winning something this season ... there's the Europa League now and we're still in the Copa Del Rey," Ryan said.

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4 min read
Published 12 December 2015 at 9:11am
By David Lewis