Melbourne City goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen has conceded he was surprised to spend so long as the club's number two this season but insists it was far from the most difficult period of his career.
The veteran gloveman was crowned the A-League's Goalkeeper of the Year last season but after getting sent off in Round 1, Sorensen found himself behind Dean Bouzanis in City's pecking order.
Sorensen had to wait almost four months to start another game for City thanks to Bouzanis' five-game suspension for calling Melbourne Victory's Besart Berisha a "f***ing gypsy" in February's derby.
"Of course, I was surprised because it sort of came out of nowhere really - you know, after the red card in Wellington - because I played all the games in pre-season and started the season," Sorensen told Goal on Friday.
"So I must be honest and say that I expected to get straight back in and it didn't happen.
"It was obviously disappointing because you train to play but again I got stuck in and just tried to push Dean and stay at the level I wanted to stay at and wait for my chance."
The ex-Denmark international has played every minute of City's past four matches, while he will have one more chance to impress coach Michael Valkanis on Saturday against Newcastle Jets before Bouzanis is up for selection again.
City notched two wins, a draw and a loss with Sorensen in goal.
The preference for Bouzanis was based on the younger goalkeeper's perceived superior skill with the ball at his feet.
Bouzanis has conceded a goal every 63 minutes this season and Sorensen has been beaten every 51 minutes, while their shots saved percentages are comparable at 62.5 and 59.1, respectively.
The 40-year-old Dane has a better passing accuracy of 74.7 per cent compared to Bouzanis' 70.3 but the 26-year-old Australian has made seven more passes per game on average.
When asked if he thinks he has done enough to keep Bouzanis out of City's starting XI, Sorensen said: "There's only one guy that can make that judgement but, you know, I've been very happy with my performances.
"I think I've made some crucial saves that's earned us some points. So, yeah, I can sit back and be pleased, I think.
"I think I've come in and played at the level I want to play at, and I can't do anything more."
Sitting on the bench is part and parcel of being a goalkeeper but looking at Sorensen's career, which included 17 years in England's top flight, he has more often than not been the number one.
But that doesn't mean this season has been the most frustrating of his 24 in professional football.
"The toughest time I definitely had was my last year at Aston Villa [in 2007-08] where… I don't really know the reasons but I think there were some political issues and personal issues and things going on that meant from one day to the other I was sort of an outcast," Sorensen said.
Sorensen's contract with City expires at the end of the 2016-17 season and he hasn't made a decision what he wants to do beyond that, although playing remains his "Plan A".
Regardless of what he does, Sorensen has relished the challenge of joining a fledgling club and helping to establish a culture he hopes will see City become a regular A-League title contender.
Sorensen concedes City's project is far from over but he believes he has helped the club's younger players understand what is required to be successful.
"When you come down here, it is a very, very protected environment," he said.
"You know, the way the league is structured - it's all 'yeah, we'll be right' - no relegation, not a lot of pressure from media, not a lot of pressure from fans.
"So I can understand why [young players think] 'yeah, we'll be ok; yeah, I made a mistake but I'll try again' but you can't have that attitude in Europe because long gone by week two."