The forgotten playmaker? Tilio’s impact off the bench growing

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Despite being stuck behind one of the best attacking lines in the country, Marco Tilio has not let that phase him as he lives the dream of playing in one of the best teams in the country.

Tilio, 21, has been a live wire in his role coming off the bench this year and has found a way to impact games this season.

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He has been particularly prominent in the back half of the season, with nine matches to his name. His fresh legs have seen him contribute a goal and two assists in recent weeks.

However, Tilio’s impact goes above what can be quantified in numbers, with his energy and work rate standout parts of his game.

“I just have to come on and make an impact in the game, that’s what a substitute’s good for and I think that’s what I do and I just want to keep building off that,” Tilio said.

“The instructions are to just make sure defensively I’m strong, that’s been a bit of a weak factor in my game, so I need to make sure I’m working hard … attack when I get the opportunity and do what I do best and take players on one-on-one and create scores.”

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Although the benefits from his role are high, there is no doubt Tilio would rather play the full 90 minutes.

Jamie Maclaren and Andrew Nabbout have been among the most valuable players in the competition so far, while the wings have been well held by Connor Metcalfe and Rostyn Griffths.

It forced Tilio into this holding position when he comes off the bench, yet he refuses to hold grudges about his position in the team.

“I’m happy for them, they’re my teammates,” Tilio said.

“I’m happy to sit behind them and learn off them because I’m still young.”

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Tilio’s patience may pay off however, as a heavy fixture and FIFA World Cup qualifying matches for the Socceroos could open the door for the young winger to hold down a spot as the season heats up.

“We’ve got a few consecutive games coming up, so if the boys do need some time off for a rest, I want to put my best foot forward for a start,” he said.

“Socceroos (games) are also coming up; Jamie and Andy are both in contention and that could open up a spot in the finals series.”

“Hopefully, when the time comes, I’d love to get a start.”

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Interestingly enough, Tilio is not the only A-League player to have made a name for himself coming off the bench, as Central Coast Mariner Alou Kuol has made a similar role his own after a blistering start to the season that saw him on top of the golden boot early.

Yet there are different reasons behind the plays, Tilio’s more out of necessity while the damaging Kuol starting on the bench is a calculated play by Mariners coach Alen Stajcic.

Tilio understands why his role is what it is and holds a great relationship with coach Patrick Kisnorbo.

“Very happy of course [with the relationshi], he’s very trustworthy and tells you straight up how it is, which is important in a coach,” Tilio said.

Look out for Tilio in years to come, as he makes his name as a certain starter week in week out.

Feature image credit: Melbourne City FC

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Seb Mottram
Sports nut studying Media comms and Marketing at Monash.

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