Super-sub Brendon Santalab says the Wanderers ambition to improve and his desire to remain injury-free is behind his stunning run of form for the Hyundai A-League leaders.
Santalab has scored in the last three games off the bench for Western Sydney, including his stunner in Saturday night’s 1-1 draw with Melbourne Victory.
It’s seen the 33-year-old rewarded with a two-year contract extension on Wednesday to keep him at Wanderland until the end of the 2017/18 season.
Asked about his rich vein of form, Santalab said: “I feel like I’m improving day-by-day and that’s what it’s all about here, getting better.
“As long as my body stays well I can continue playing the way I am.
“My body's in good condition and whenever you're in good shape physically, mentally, you put yourself in a situation to perform well and that seems to be the situation at the moment.”
Santalab’s all-action style and knack of scoring important goals has made him a firm fan-favourite.
After an injury-plagued start to the campaign, he’s now a permanent fixture in Topy Popovic’s squad, with marquee man Federico Piovaccari the one forced to watch from the stands.
Santalab, who has five goals for the season, admits he’s enjoying his impact role at the moment but is focused on forcing his way into the starting XI.
“I’d love to start every week but [Mark] Bridge’s in red-hot form at the moment,” he said.
"I’ll continue to enjoy the role I’m playing for now and whenever required to start or come off the bench I’m always ready.
“It’s my teammates grinding the opposition down before I jump on,” Santalab added when asked why he’s doing so well off the bench.
“With my fresh legs just come on and do what I do. It’s up to me to finish the opposition off the majority of time and it’s worked of late.”
He’ll be hoping to make his mark again on Sunday as the Wanderers host a Wellington Phoenix side which hasn’t won in their last nine games.
With Brisbane Roar only trailing the Wanderers on goal-difference, Santalab knows it’s vital they keep picking up maximum points.
“There’s a little bit of a gap from us and Brisbane to third and fourth but it’s very tight,” he said of the A-League ladder.
“Anybody can beat anybody in the league which is great for the A-League and at this point we feel we’re in a great position to lift the Premiers’ Plate and it’s something we’ll strive for over the next nine rounds.”
The Wanderers are likely to be without all three of their Spanish imports on Sunday with Alberto and Dimas both suspended while Andreu is battling an injury.