YOUNG striker Costa Barbarouses has been patient since joining the Wellington Phoenix and is now relishing the chance to showcase his obvious talent.
Barbarouses joined the Phoenix for their start in the Hyundai A-League but has had to bide his time as a regular player, initially down the pecking order behind star Shane Smeltz in the club-s first two seasons and more recently Britons Chris Greenacre and Paul Ifill.
But the 19-year-old has long had an admirer in Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert, who has helped develop to natural talent of the homegrown favourite.
Barbarouses has already repaid that faith, finishing a lovely team goal against Adelaide United last season and chipping in with the Phoenix-s sole goal in their 3-1 loss to Sydney FC last weekend.
The rising star is set for another chance to shine on Wednesday night when the Phoenix take on Newcastle United in a Hyundai A-League 2009/10 round 10 catch-up match against the Newcastle Jets at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
Named in Herbert-s 15-man game-day squad, Barbarouses in certain to get his chance at some point against the Jets – be it as a starter or a substitute – in what is the first match in a double-header for the Phoenix that will see them back up against Perth Glory, again at Westpac Stadium, on Sunday.
“When I came on off the bench against Sydney my intention was to make an impact,” Barbarouses said. “Even though the team was down it was nice to cap it off with a goal and I think I went pretty well.”
Barbarouses has been patient during his time with the Phoenix, playing just 11 games to date, with eight of those appearances off the bench. But he understands and appreciates the rationale behind Herbert-s decisions.
“It can get frustrating but I do realise that I-m only young and that nothing comes easy. I understand that I have to work hard and that opportunities will come. Hopefully this season can be the season that I push on and get more game-time. I want to build on last weekend-s performance and I-m looking forward to another shot against Newcastle.”
Top of the Phoenix-s list of priorities is nailing the Jets and extending an unbeaten home run of 11 matches.
“We-ve got a good team, we-re combining well and hopefully I can be there to finish off the opportunities we-ve been creating,” said Barbarouses. “With the double-header I-ve got extra incentive because I need to be ready to take my chances when Ricki calls on me.”
The Phoenix have named an unchanged squad for Wednesday-s match, though first-choice goalkeeper Mark Paston will undergo a fitness test after being replaced early in the match against Sydney FC following a collision with teammate Ben Sigmund.
Barbarouses is certain to feature against Newcastle in front of his home crowd at Westpac Stadium at some point on Wednesday night.
“Costa did well when he came on and we might elect to start him (against Newcastle),” said Herbert. “After all, he-s not tired, is he? I think for a young player the need and want to play has to be there so much and there can-t be any disappointment. I feel that Costa-s reached that point now – he looked mature against Sydney and he delivered.”