Sainsbury in the mix

Young Central Coast defender Trent Sainsbury is poised to play in the biggest game of his career as the Mariners battle to make a third grand final in six seasons of the A-League at Gosford on Saturday night.

Young Central Coast defender Trent Sainsbury is poised to play in the biggest game of his career as the Mariners battle to make a third grand final in six seasons of the A-League at Gosford on Saturday night.

With regular right-back Pedj Bojic suspended after picking up two yellow cards in last week's draw with Brisbane, Mariners coach Graham Arnold is considering giving Sainsbury a start in the preliminary final against Gold Coast at Bluetongue Stadium.

Sainsbury has been used in the A-League several times by Arnold this season and has delivered some assured performances, despite his lack of experience at the top level.

While Arnold is not expected to confirm his starting side until late Friday or even on game day, he admitted Sainsbury was in contention for a start.

"Trent has done a good job when he's been in the side this year," Arnold said.

"He's well and truly in the mix for a start."

Mariners captain Alex Wilkinson is in no doubt Sainsbury could handle the pressure against Gold Coast.

"If he starts I'm confident the occasion won't get the better of him," Wilkinson said.

"He's shown already this season what a good player he is."

While Sainsbury would be a straight swap for Bojic, Arnold has other options.

Rostyn Griffiths has been a dominant force in a defensive midfield position throughout the season but could easily make the switch to the heart of defence.

If Arnold opts to go that way it would mean Wilkinson would revert to right back, a position he has played this year, but not his preferred choice.

"Whatever way we go I'm confident we can get the job done," Wilkinson said.