FA Cup: Ex-England winger Trevor Sinclair, 41, eyes playing chance
Former England winger Trevor Sinclair made his last appearance as a professional footballer in the 2008 FA Cup final but, at the age of 41, he could be about to dust off the boots and play in the competition once again.
Sinclair, who retired as a player six years ago, is currently assistant manager of non-league side Lancaster City, who on Saturday face FC United in the FA Cup second qualifying round.
But an injury crisis means Sinclair, who scored a stunning bicycle-kick for QPR in the competition against Barnsley 17 years ago, could be called upon to recreate his FA Cup-goalscoring exploits.
"There is a possibility I might have to get involved this weekend because we are struggling for numbers," Sinclair told BBC Sport.
"My wife told me to behave myself because I am an old man now - I am touching 42 - but I still feel fit and able.
"I still look after myself and the most important thing is I still love the game and I get involved in training when I can.
"If the gaffer says we are struggling for numbers and asks if I want to play I will, but I don't want to take the opportunity away from one of the young lads."
The 'gaffer' at Lancaster City, who play in the eighth tier of English football, is Sinclair's former QPR team-mate Darren Peacock, who has been manager of the club since April last year.
The pair played alongside each other two decades ago, but were reunited when Sinclair got in touch with Peacock shortly after returning from Dubai, where he had spent six years coaching youth football.
"I bumped into a mutual friend in Dubai and he mentioned Darren had become manager at Lancaster," added Sinclair.
"I thought I would get his number, give him a ring and see if I could do any coaching there because I was already doing my coaching badges and it would be a good opportunity to get the hours under my belt.
"We met up and it was only supposed to be a half-hour chat and we ended up talking for three hours, chewing the fat over football, and he offered me the job there and then."
Sinclair, who won 12 caps for England between 2001 and 2003, spent the vast majority of his playing career at the highest level, having been on the books of QPR, West Ham and Manchester City, before spending his final year in the game at Cardiff City.
It was there he made a four-minute cameo in the 2008 FA Cup final against Portsmouth, who won the game 1-0.
Sinclair was released a few days later and, after two knee operations in the latter stages of his career, he decided to retire, packed his bags and took his family off for a few months in the sun in Dubai.
That ultimately turned into a six-year stay, as he took up coaching children as well as working in the media.
However, with his own children getting older, coupled with the opportunity to develop his coaching career in England, he decided to return home earlier this year.
He was appointed Lancaster City assistant in July but, given his experience and reputation as a player, was he disappointed not to have been offered the chance to coach at a higher level?
"When I was starting as a footballer, I had plenty of interest from clubs to sign me up on schoolboy forms but I decided to go Blackpool, who were a fourth division club at the time, because I wanted to start at the lower end and work my way up," added Sinclair.
"I have always believed if you are good enough you will get there eventually, and I feel I have used that same philosophy with my coaching.
"I think Darren and I complement each other really well. I am chattier and don't mind getting involved and having a craic with some of the players, whereas Darren is a little quieter and doesn't really get involved in that side of things. It is a combination I think works really well.
"I am also not opposed to getting my hands dirty and washing kits or sweeping floors. I haven't had to do that yet but these are things that are not too dissimilar to what I was used to at Blackpool when they were a fourth division club."
On Tuesday, Professional Footballers' Association chairman Gordon Taylor said there is a "hidden resistance" to hiring black managers.
Sinclair agrees that opportunities for black and mixed race former players to manage in the Premier League and Football League are limited, but feels more ex-professionals, perhaps frustrated by limited opportunities at the higher level, should consider starting out coaching lower down the football ladder.
"I don't think every player who plays at the top level wants to go to this level but I think if the opportunity is there, and you are happy to get your hands dirty, it might be a good option for black players because, as it stands now, there are not a lot of opportunities at the higher end," he said.
"It has to be something that is dealt with and looked at."
Sinclair hopes one day to move from coaching and into management but for now his focus is solely on Lancaster City, starting with this Saturday's FA Cup tie.
The club breezed through the first qualifying round earlier this month, beating West Allotment Celtic 5-0, and Sinclair added: "It is still early in the tournament but the players are excited.
"The history of the FA Cup speaks for itself and the lads know it is a big game.
"It can be the chance to really make a name for yourself. Even now, 17 years later, I still get asked about the goal I scored against Barnsley, so if you do well in this competition you get remembered for a long, long time.
"This is a tournament that historically ticks all the boxes in football in this country, and it doesn't matter which round you play in it because it is always special."