By John Donnachie / asbpremiership.co.nz
CHRISTCHURCH - Canterbury United's close season capture from England - Darren White- is enjoying life in Christchurch despite the Dragons indifferent form of late and the ongoing seismic activity.
“I'm pretty stoked with the way I'm playing at the moment. I think I'm doing well with the team. Hopefully it is being recognised by the people upstairs.”
The 23 year-old, spent 14 years in Auckland, before moving across to England.
He revealed he has ambitions to become an All White.
“When I was in the UK I thought about it and Cole Peverley suggested I give it a shot. So I decided to come back to try and make the New Zealand under 23s Olympic squad.”
White has certainly an admirable CV to date. He was plucked from Frome Town in England's non-league set-up following Keith Braithwaite's off season recruitment drive.
He has also played in Germany for Hansa Rostock at youth level. There he played in a national youth cup final against Hertha Berlin.
While at the same club he also faced the European giants, the likes of AC Milan Liverpool and Barcelona.
During this time, White encountered some of the current top players in Europe.
“I played against [German international] Mesut Ozil who was at Werder Bremen at the time, and I played in the same team as Toni Kroos (Bayern Munich & Germany).”
White says he has been impressed and surprised by the professionalism of the Canterbury United set-up.
The facilities and playing surfaces have also impressed him. But he thinks New Zealand football has some way to go in terms of playing standards.
“In England, it's more competitive with usually three games during the week. There is so many more teams to play in the league and then cup competitions. The pace in the game in the UK is much faster and even the tackling is bigger and stronger. You can't afford to take too many touches on the ball there.”
White meanwhile remains optimistic that the Dragons' can make this year's ASB Premiership play-offs.
“I think we have the numbers to do it. It is just a matter of getting everyone fit. But we do have some decent youth players, so I think we can do it.”
Dragons coach Keith Braithwaite, has no doubts about White's talents.
“Darren is a quality player. We really need to take more advantage of his work.”
Looking towards Sunday, the Dragons' coach has a few selection dilemmas for the match against the bottom-placed Youngheart Manawatu.
Captain Dan Terris is injured- and likely to be unavailable for up to six weeks.
Midfielder Paul Dirou has work commitments, and Cole Peverley is suspended- although the Dragons are in the process of appealing Peverley's sending-off.
Braithwaite said he was baffled by Peverley's red card last week and hoped “some common sense would prevail”.
Still, there is some good news. The ASB Premiership top goalscorer, George Slefendorfas returns after suspension, while influential midfielder, Aaron Clapham, trained last night (Tuesday) and could feature on Sunday.
Full-back Jeremy Wild, recovering from injury could also be back in the mix.
Youngheart Manawatu come south, struggling for form and on the back of a heavy loss at home to champions Waitakere United.
Braithwaite however is taking nothing for granted.
He said: “I'm sure they will be hurting after last week. So it will be a test for us.”
The action gets underway at ASB Football Park, Christchurch, at 2pm.
Canterbury welcomes back top scorer George SLEFENDORFAS, All Whites midfielder Aaron CLAPHAM and goalkeeper Tom BATTY.
Dan TERRIS and Jeremy WILD are on the injured list Antony CIBILICH is replaced, Nick WORTELBOER is unavailable
Cory CHETTLEBURGH has secured a professional contract with a club in the Netherlands. Matt KENNEDY is listed as unavailable
Cole PEVERLEY is suspended
Nathan COOKSLEY takes over the captaincy from Cory CHETTLEBURGH and is in line for his 79th ASB Premiership career appearance.
It took Canterbury United six years before they recorded a home win over YoungHeart Manawatu in a 6-0 demolition in 2009-10 season. Canterbury remain unbeaten in their last four matches with Manawatu with three wins a draw.
YoungHeart’s last win over Canterbury in Christchurch was a 1-0 success back in 2008.
ASB Premiership - Round 8
Sunday 22 January, 2012
1- Tom BATTY (GK)
1- Matt BORREN (GK)
3- Mark JOHNSTON
3- Josh CHETTLEBURGH
5- Tom SCHWARZ
4- Jamie O'CONNOR
6- Geoff MacINTYRE
7- Jared CURTIS
7- Darren WHITE
8- Nathan COOKSLEY (c)
8- Aaron CLAPHAM
9- Suele SOROMON
9- George SLEFENDORFAS
11- Jimmy HAIDAKIS
10- Russell KAMO
14- Pablo MOYA
12- Andy BARTON
15- Stuart LAWRIE
14- Josh SMITH
16- Michael FRASER
15- Julyan COLLETT
17- Jordan MARTENS
16- Joe MURRAY
18- Barry LEWIS
19- Calvin OPPERMAN
19- Andrew DRAKE (GK)
20- Ken YAMAMOTO
24- Izaia BURSTON
22- Adam HIGHFIELD (GK)
- one to be added.
25- Shawn O'BRIEN