Socceroos Spotlight: Sainsbury's surprise new role, Kruse a class above

Trent Sainsbury's much-anticipated first start in Switzerland contained an unexpected twist that earned the admiration of his manager.

There was adulation for Robbie Kruse's latest performance in Germany, while Jackson Irvine's quality has been touted by a former coach.

Catch up with all of that in our latest Socceroos Spotlight.

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At a new club, in a new role and with almost no football for five months, plenty of players might need a period of adjustment.

Not Trent Sainsbury.

Australia's defensive leader was back to starring on Saturday as he helped Grasshopper secure a 1-1 draw with city rivals FC Zurich, part of which he played in holding midfield.

READ: Aussies Abroad: Sainsbury's starting debut in Switzerland

The Perth product's move proved the catalyst in his side's recovery from a goal down.

"The first half did not go as we had imagined," coach Murat Yakin explained.

"In the second half, Sainsbury moved from defence to midfield.

"This gave us a better grip on the game and gave us many opportunities."


Away to 2.Bundesliga leaders Fortuna Dusseldorf on Friday night, VfL Bochum needed a performance of herculean proportions if they were to stay in sight of a promotion play-off spot.

An exceptional display from Robbie Kruse helped make it happen.

READ: Aussies Abroad: Kruse on target in Germany

The Caltex Socceroos winger was in vintage form against his former club, sliding the 75th-minute winner through goalkeeper Raphael Wolf's legs in a big upset.

Kruse's fifth strike of the season capped an influential 90 minutes that earned him Opta's player of the matchday title.

Along with his goal, the 29-year-old finished with three crosses, four fouls won and the highest passing accuracy (94 per cent) among all starters.


Hull City's trip to Burton Albion on Wednesday morning (AEST) sees Jackson Irvine visit his former team for the first time since his August departure.

Irvine left the Brewers on good terms after scoring 10 goals in his only campaign for the club, topping the scoring charts as Nigel Clough's men averted relegation from the Championship.

READ: Goal-scorer Irvine welcomes new Caltex Socceroos role

But the division's bottom-placed side have found it tougher this time around, a delcine Clough attributes largely to Irvine's exit.

"We've missed his goals," Clough said of the 25-year-old.

"It's strange because he hasn't been as prolific at Hull, and you'd have thought with better players around him he would have got more goals than he did with us.

"He hasn't quite managed that.

"But I think losing him and the blow of losing Liam Boyce as well is a major reason why we are where we are."

Jackson Irvine Aaron Mooy
Irvine escaping Aaron Mooy's attention last season.

The Tigers head to Pirelli Stadium in a buoyant mood following their 4-0 thumping of Massimo Luongo's Queens Park Rangers on the weekend.

Irvine was at the centre of a fracas late in the match after copping a crude challenge from Rangers midfielder Josh Scowen, which drew the ire of his own manager.

"Scowen should have been sent off, it's an absolutely scandalous tackle in my opinion. I'm going to hammer him," Holloway said of his player.

"He got angry because they were playing around us. Well you've got to take your medicine son, don't kick out at someone like that."