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Five Socceroo bolters who could be an answer for Ange

by John Davidson on Feb 07, 2014

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Time is running out until the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. With Lucas Neill still clubless and the pair of Robbie Kruse and Rhys Williams out with injury, the Socceroos squad remains in limbo.

Tom Rogic needs to gain valuable game time with Melbourne Victory while a transfer drama has ruled Mark Bresciano out of action for several months. Head coach Ange Postecoglou has a couple of selection headaches he needs to fix and fast. With games against Ecuador in March and an as yet unnamed opponent in May on the way, who can come in from the cold and press their claims?

Who deserves a look in at this late stage and could improve the squad, or who should be in Ange’s sights for the Asian Cup and post-Brazil? Here’s five players pressing for an opportunity with the national team.

BAILEY WRIGHT
Wright has been the quite achiever in the UK over the past few years. The Victorian joined Preston North End in 2009 and came through the club’s ranks. Now established in the first XI, Wright has been one of the Preston’s best as the Lilywhites fight for promotion into the Championship. A tall, athletic centre back, he has largely been ignored by FFA. He played for the Joeys three times five years ago but since then has heard boo from the national hierarchy. Some may bag the standard of League One football but Wright has been a standout this campaign. After an impressive 2012-2013 season, where he made 41 appearances and was named Preston’s young player of the year, his development has continued this season.

A left-sided stopper who can play either centrally or on the left flank, and already with experience of playing in the Championship, he is set for higher honours. At just 21 years of age Wright has the technical ability, speed and strength to make a difference to the Socceroos backline.

MASSIMO LUONGO
Once on the books of Tottenham, this Sydneysider is thriving after his move to Swindon Town. A creative midfielder who can score and create goals, Luongo has not looked back after his transfer last year. Already this season he has played 36 matches, 29 in League One and seven in cup competitions, for a return of six goals and three assists. The 21-year old is wanted by bigger clubs but is relishing now playing regularly after struggling to break into Spurs’ first-team for two years. Able to play at as a number 10 or as a holding midfielder, Luongo is a versatile and imaginative player. He likes to get forward and play killer passes, but is also learning the less-exciting parts of the game in breaking up play and screening the back four.

A box-to-box midfielder with an excellent touch, Loungo is the kind of player the Socceroos are crying out for. He has never represented Australia at any level and is also eligible for Indonesia and Italy, due to his parent’s heritage. Tottenham snapped him in 2011 from Sydney’s eastern suburbs and the Sydney Olympic junior is going from strength to strength in the UK.

OLIVER BOZANIC
The son of former Socceroo Vic Bozanic is making his mark in Switzerland after joining FC Luzern in 2013. Six goals and one assist from 19 games also shows that the Swiss Super League is to Oliver Bozanic’s liking and the midfielder left the Mariners at the perfect time. With a grand final win under his belt, Bozanic headed back overseas after three years and more than 70 matches for Central Coast. The playmaker had been overseas before – he spent three years as youngster at Reading and on loan to Woking, Cheltenham Town and Aldershot Town in the UK – before returning home.

Now at 25 Bozanic has the maturity and the game to succeed in Europe and he is doing that in spades. Playing further forward than he did at Bluetongue Stadium, the Parramatta Eagles junior is flourishing and scoring freely. The former Olyroo captain played his first match for the Socceroos against Canada and did not look out of place. Having worked with Ange Postecoglou before during his Young Socceroo days, Bozanic will be hard to leave out for Brazil if he keeps performing well and stays in the goals in Switzerland.

LUKE BRATTAN
It might a surprise selection to some but Luke Brattan has been one of the best performers in the A-League this season, in clearly the competition’s best team. The Brisbane Roar midfielder is destined for bigger things and has done a delightful job pulling the strings in a magical midfield alongside imports Thomas Broich and Liam Miller. Brattan has yet to miss a game for the table-topping Roar this season, has a lovely passing game and quick feet. Born in Hull but having learnt his football in Queensland, the 23-year old has put his injury problems behind him to really make his mark this season.

A wonder strike against Wellington Phoenix from distance showed emphatically that goal-scoring is part of his arsenal. Likely headed overseas at the end of this season, Brattan is a classy player who can go far. With competition in the defensive midfield area very strong Brazil might come round too soon for him, but the former Young Socceroo is certainly one to watch and may not have long to wait for a call-up.

SHANE LOWRY
What does Shane Lowry have to do to get a Socceroo cap? The one-time Aston Villa, Sheffield United, Leeds United and Plymouth Argyle defender has been plying his trade in England since 2005, when he joined Villa with good mate Chris Herd. He has swapped clubs via loan moves several times since then until finally finding a home at Millwall permanently in 2012.

The former Republic of Ireland Under-17 and Under-21 representative, who has been in a number of Socceroo squads in the past but yet to get on the field, really came of age last season. Lowry made 45 appearances for Kenny Jackett’s Lions as they surprisingly reached the FA Cup semi-finals, before bowing out to Wigan Athletic. The 2013-2014 campaign has not gone as well for the West Australian, with a change a manager and indiscipline reducing him to just 15 games. But Lowry has done enough in the past, and has the experience and ability, to be considered for the Socceroos.

The Championship defender can play at centre back or at left back, two massively problematic areas for Ange Postecoglou. While Lowry’s penchant for picking up cards is an issue, that never ruled out the likes of Kevin Muscat for national team selection. At 24 and eager to represent his country, Lowry deserves a look in.