Sky Blues' King desperate for ALM derby starting spot

Socceroos defender Joel King is itching to get off the Sydney FC bench.

Lost in the football wilderness, King admits his A-League Men (ALM) homecoming hasn't gone exactly to plan.

The 23-year-old left the Sky Blues in 2022 for an overseas adventure with Danish Superliga club Odense but returned after 17 appearances.

King had gone abroad in a bid to catapult his career but found himself out of his depth, competing in a league where relegation was a constant threat.

The left-back knows he'll have to earn his spot back at his childhood club, but the journey to rediscovering his form has been pockmarked with foot and calf injuries.

"It's my second chapter (but) I wouldn't say it's gone very well," King told AAP.

"Due to a few injuries I've had this year, I've been held back and I've struggled to keep fit but that's just how football goes. Sometimes it's a bit nasty.

"It's disappointing but you can't be too upset with everything."

Luke Brattan and Joel King.
Joel King (R) celebrates alongside Luke Brattan their 100th ALM game for the Sky Blues.

Debuting in 2019 after a campaign in the club's NPL team, King reached career heights in the 2020/21 season.

Starting in every match, he became the club's first player to take home the Young Footballer of the Year award for his breakout performances.

Since returning on loan before signing a permanent three-year deal, King has so far played just 14 out of a possible 24 ALM matches.

But the tide could turn.

With defensive stars Jordan Courtney-Perkins and Jake Girdwood-Reich on Olyroos duty for the AFC U-23 Asian Cup, King could finally reclaim a starting spot and remind coach Ufuk Talay of his class when they line up against fierce rivals Western Sydney on Saturday.

"I still have a lot to prove as a player," King said.

"I'm a better player than what I have been lately. I've experienced a lot in football, having been overseas and being with the national team.

"I can be a lot more impactful to the team."

King even surprised himself when he scored his first league goal after 88 appearances in Sydney's 2-0 win over competition leaders Central Coast.

"I had one shot and I thought it was going in and then (Mariners defender Brian) Kaltack managed to be a superhero and get back on the line and block it," King said.

"Lucky enough it fell back to me. I thought, 'bugger, I'll just shoot again'.

"I was fortunate enough it went through but I didn't actually see it go in. I just heard the crowd go, so I was a bit hesitant if it went in or not.

"I paused and then I thought 'Oh no, I've got to celebrate'. I just felt like an awkward person but it was really, really good and really special.

"If I get a chance I'd love to go again."

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