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Five Aussies set for a defining 2012-13 season

by Ben Somerford on Jul 24, 2012

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On the back of Massimo Luongo's loan move from Tottenham to Ipswich, we've decided to look at five youngsters whose promising careers are coming to a crucial juncture in the 2012-13 season.

Mitchell Langerak (Borussia Dortmund)
There's a lot to like about Mitch Langerak. He's a kid who is always trying to learn, never letting his head drop. That's what the past two seasons, since moving from Melbourne Victory to Dortmund, have been about for him. However now is the time for regular game-time.

The reality is Langerak isn't going to usurp Roman Weidenfeller as the German champions' number one keeper so a loan move needs to happen. During Langerak's handful of first-team appearances he has mostly impressed but has been prone to misjudgement and unnecessarily racing off his line which is something regular games will help stamp out. He can't sit on the bench forever.

Chris Herd (Aston Villa)
Plenty of Socceroos supporters were very excited by Herd's rapid rise during the 2011-12 Premier League season where he became a starting regular under Alex McLeish. However, with a new boss in Paul Lambert arriving, the pressure is on Herd to avoid the 'second-year blues'.

Unfortunately there's been a few negative reports regarding the 23-year-old deep-lying midfielder's form in pre-season which doesn't bode well. Herd clearly has the qualities required for a long career in English football, but whether he's a top-notch player will be decided in 2012-13, as he faces new challenges under Lambert who won't stand for any more off-field problems either.

Massimo Luongo (Ipswich)
For a 19-year-old, Luongo has made a big move joining the Tractor Boys on a season-long loan. Obviously first-team opportunities at a top club like Tottenham aren't going to be too regular in the near future but moving away from White Hart Lane simply to play is a big call at his age and something we don't see enough of from young Aussies.

Luongo was in a few Spurs squads in the league last term and actually made his debut in the Carling Cup. The Sydney-born talent plays as an anchoring midfielder role, which Ipswich boss Paul Jewell needs following Lee Bowyer and Grant Leadbitter's departures, although Luongo will battle with fellow youngster Luke Hyam for a starting spot.

Michael Zullo (Utrecht)
While his much younger Australian club team-mate Tommy Oar has three years remaining on his Utrecht contract, Zullo is now heading into his final season. The left-sided 23-year-old may have graduated onto the senior Socceroos side since his move to the Netherlands, but he's never firmly claimed a regular spot in the side for a variety of reasons.

The chief reason for Zullo's struggles has been injury, with a persistent groin problem re-emerging last week to rule him out of the opening few weeks of the new season in a further blow. Also, since coach Jan Wouters' arrival in October he's preferred Davy Bulthuis to Zullo at left-back. Winning back that spot is his challenge. Utrecht haven't signed many players this off-season, while the departures of Stefano Lilipaly and Ismo Vorstermans could force a re-shuffle, giving Zullo hope. If it doesn't happen, he may elect to return to the A-League.

Brad Inman (Newcastle)
A few years ago there was all sorts of buzz about this young talent when he was named on the bench of a league clash against Manchester City, however his progress has stalled in the past 18 months, with a knee injury stopping him in his tracks last term.

Inman, now 20, recently signed a new one-year deal with the Magpies, who do promote their young players to the first-team, such as Shane Ferguson, Sammy Ameobi, Haris Vuckic and Nile Ranger. However, Inman wants to follow Luongo's lead and head out on loan this season, desperate for first-team football after years in the reserves and youth sides. The kid has talent but the clock is ticking so now is the time for him to reach his potential.