Sainsbury recalled by relegation-threatened Jiangsu

Australia defender Trent Sainsbury has been recalled for duty by his club Jiangsu Suning, which is locked in a battle to avoid relegation from the Chinese Super League.

Trent Sainsbury in action for the Socceroos

Trent Sainsbury in action for the Socceroos Source: Getty Images

Sainsbury will return to the club after the Socceroos have completed their campaign at the FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia, either in late June or early July depending on how far they advance in the tournament.

There has been an apparent change of heart at Jiangsu regarding Sainsbury, who was loaned out to Italian club Inter Milan at the end of January.

The defender did not get any game time there until the last round of Serie A in late May, with nothing left at stake for Inter.

Jiangsu's struggles on the field and a recent change of coach have reportedly prompted the move as the club calls for all hands on deck.

Sainsbury was loaned out after a tightening of the rules governing the use of foreign players in the CSL, limiting the number to three in a game.

Jiangsu finished runners-up in the Super League last season, when Sainsbury played in 29 of their 30 games.

Sainsbury's agent, Tony Rallis, confirmed the latest development regarding his client.

"Trent is contracted to Jiangsu Suning and he has been asked to return to his paymaster," Rallis said.

"It is Trent's intention to honour that commitment and return after he has completed his commitments with the Socceroos."

Sainsbury played in the centre of the three-man defence for the Socceroos in their crucial, 3-2 win over Saudi Arabia in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying match in Adelaide on Thursday.

He has now travelled with the squad to Melbourne for Tuesday's international against Brazil, after which the Socceroos will head off for the Confederations Cup.

Sainsbury, 25, said in a newspaper interview published last Saturday that he didn't know what the immediate future held for him because he wasn't sure what Jiangsu's plans were.

He said he had loved the Inter Milan experience and that he wanted to "keep progressing and get to that stage where I’m at my best".

"I can put myself in the shop window with these important (Socceroo) games that are coming up.’’

His recall by Jiangsu has come in the days since then. Jiangsu Suning and Inter Milan are both owned by Suning Holdings Group and although the Italian club didn't use Sainsbury until right at the end of his loan deal it is understood he made a very good impression at the club with his attitude and intensity at training.

He is contracted to Jiangsu for another 18 months and it remains to be seen whether he sees that deal out, ends up elsewhere in Asia, or back in Europe after the current season ends in November.

Sainsbury previously played for PEC Zwolle in the Dutch Eredivisie.

Jiangsu Suning are in 15th place of 16 teams after 12 of the 30 rounds of the CSL, with just one win, five draws and six losses.

The teams that finish in the bottom two positions are relegated from the top tier of Chinese football.

Playing regular club football again could only be good for Sainsbury in preparation for Australia's huge World Cup qualifiers against Japan away on August 31 and Thailand at home on September 5.

Particularly since his level of responsibility has only increased as the central player in the three-man defensive line Australia coach Ange Postecoglou has recently favoured.

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4 min read
Published 9 June 2017 at 4:25pm
By Greg Prichard