Bozanic ready for starting role

Oliver Bozanic isn't taking anything for granted this weekend but hopes to get a chance to make up for previous pain.

If you listen to Graham Arnold, Oliver Bozanic may not be the automatic choice for the Mariners midfield everyone expected.

With Nick Montgomery suspended for Sunday-s Grand Final against Western Sydney Wanderers, many were tipping Bozanic, who stepped into the defensive midfielder role a number of times this season, would take the Englishman-s place in front of the Mariners back four.

But Arnold did his best to spread a little misinformation before the big game, suggesting that centreback Trent Sainsbury could move forward, with Zac Anderson and Patrick Zwaanswijk forming the central partnership.

It could happen - or it might just be a little ploy from Arnold. Either way, Bozanic won-t know if he-s a starter until the last minute. But he-s waiting for the call.

“We do our shape towards the end of the week so we won-t know [who-s playing where] til then,” Bozanic says.

“I-ve had a few little niggling injuries that have kept me out but I-m back fully fit and ready to go for the grand final - and hopefully start.”

The 24-year-old knows better than to take anything for granted. It-s been a tough season for the former Young Socceroo, with unfortunate injuries making it hard for him to pin down a regular spot in Arnold-s title-chasing side.

He impressed in Montgomery-s role when the former was suspended against Brisbane Roar - only to leave the pitch with a dislocated shoulder. Then there was the clash against Newcastle in round 10, which left him with a golf ball-sized lump on his head.

“It has been frustrating,” Bozanic admits. “You work as hard as you can every training session and want to take that out on the field. I was starting to get some good form and then two times I was caught up with an injury which kept me out for another three weeks. Then you have to get match fit again and work your way back into the team.

“It does take a toll. You have to deal with; it-s part of the job. I-m just happy doing something I love and hopefully an opportunity to start would be great.”

And it-s not as if Arnold would be handing the spot to a wide-eyed newcomer. Bozanic was an integral part of the Mariners squad that lost the 2011 Grand Final to Brisbane Roar. He knows what-s involved and, if anything, that might help his cause.

Just as the experience of the big occasion is nothing new, the pain of that loss still lingers. And if given his chance, Bozanic is hungry to make amends.

“The first [grand final] it-s something new and you do have those nerves. This time we-re looking strong, we-re mentally strong and that-ll play a big part that a few of us have been there before. It-s a massive motivator. We know what it-s like to lose and we don-t want that again.”