Paston still waiting in the wings

It's been a tough few months for Wellington Phoenix goalkeeper Mark Paston.

It's been a tough few months for Wellington Phoenix goalkeeper Mark Paston.

The hero of New Zealand's World Cup campaign in 2010 has found himself sitting behind import Tony Warner since the opening round of the current season.

It's not an unusual situation for Paston, who has faced competition from Glen Moss, Liam Reddy and Danny Vukovic during his five years at the Phoenix, although injury has also curtailed his playing time.

But Paston admits it doesn't get any easier, particularly as goalkeepers rarely get called upon from the bench.

"Mentally it's very tough. There is not much that you can do. You can keep training but there's no substitute for actual game time," the 35-year-old said.

"Unfortunately with the club where it is at the moment and where it's located, not in Australia so not in any reserve team leagues, it's difficult to get game time. There's not much you can do about it. You just get on with things."

"Keeping professional and training well is the only thing I can do. I like to think I've done that. It's been pretty challenging given that we don't have a full-time goalkeeping coach. But I've tried to make the most of what we've got and kept my head up."

Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert, who is also the New Zealand coach and made Paston his No.1 choice at international level, has had nothing but praise for his goalkeeper's professionalism and work ethic during the past three months.

But it is of little consolation for Paston, who is obviously frustrated by the situation.

"Everyone wants to be playing. There's competition for spots. I don't think anyone wants to train all week and sit on the bench. Everyone wants to play."

The lack of a full-time goalkeeping coach has also not helped the situation, although Matt Oates, from local club Team Wellington, has been working with Warner and Paston on a part-time basis and Herbert has said there will be a goalkeeping coach at the club for next season.

"It's not an ideal situation and everyone admits that," said Paston.

"I read in the newspaper this morning about them looking for someone for next season so that's the right direction to be headed in."

"A goalkeeping coach brings a platform for us just to go out and train and focus on training well and training hard."

But despite the rivalry with Warner, Paston says the pair get along well and help each other out.

"Some media like to beat it up that we don't like each other," he said.

"I had the same thing with Mossy when he was here. They like to portray that we hate each other's guts, which is definitely not the case. We've got a really good professional relationship and we try and work as hard as we can when Oates isn't here."

"But we are competing for a spot and might have two different ideas of what we want to do and that's not always ideal some times."

Paston hopes to get his chance against Gold Coast United on Sunday and said the thrill of being in the starting XI never goes away.

"There is always that buzz whether you've been playing for the whole season or you haven't been," he explained.

"I miss that in a way, the extra spark that you get when you're out warming up before the game. I think there are always a little bit of butterflies and I think there is something wrong if there's not."