Zwolle switch will make or break Sainsbury's World Cup hopes

The promising young stopper is taking a chance with a mid-season transfer as he attempts to force his way into Ange Postecoglou's Brazil 2014 plans
By Iain Strachan

Trent Sainsbury's decision to join PEC Zwolle in a World Cup year is a gamble which could see the youngster earn a plane ticket to Brazil, or cost him any chance of making the squad.

The Central Coast Mariners confirmed on Friday the young defender has been sold to the Dutch club, who are ninth in the 18-team Eredivisie, two points outside the Europa League play-off places.

At 22 Sainsbury has already made himself a first-team regular for the A-League champions, but that hasn't been enough to earn him a senior Socceroos cap.

A consistent second half of the Australian season might have seen him come in Ange Postecoglou's thinking but he would have had to be in superb form to warrant selection, with inexperience counting against him.

Making the move to Europe mid-season and earning regular game-time in the Dutch top flight would make a far more convincing argument for inclusion.

And while the potential reward of featuring in the biggest football show on earth in June is considerable, there is also plenty of risk involved.

The story of promising young Australian players making the move to Europe only to end up rotting in the reserves of a mid-table team is a familiar one, but there are also plenty of success stories.

Of the recent Mariners exports, Mat Ryan and Oliver Bozanic have thrived at Club Brugge and Luzen respectively, while Tom Rogic and Mustafa Amini struggled to make an impact.

Which category Sainsbury falls into after five months in the Netherlands will make or break his slim hopes of going up against the reigning world champions in a green and gold shirt.