Where's Tommy?

by Paddy Higgs on Oct 03, 2011

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FC Utrecht are happy with him. The fans are clamouring for his recall. The player himself appears to be as confident as he has ever been since leaving Brisbane Roar.

So why no Tommy Oar in Holger Osieck’s Socceroos squad?

It was, of course, hardly the dominant issue surrounding the naming of the squad last Tuesday to play the friendly against Malaysia and the the AFC World Cup qualifier against Oman – Brett Emerton and Harry Kewell saw to that.

Had the duo been included, perhaps we would not be entering so much correspondence into the overlooking of Oar.

But the absence of the pair and the naming of just 17 outfield players for the two matches begged a question after the press conference and Osieck’s laugh finally wound up on Tuesday.

Undoubtedly, Oar has been one of Australia’s form players in Europe this season.

He would have been one of the few players to end Australia’s disappointing Under-20 World Cup in Colombia in August with confidence, having hit two goals in his country’s campaign.

He started his first game of the Eredivisie season a week after the Young Socceroos’ obligations ended and has started the six games since, scoring twice and playing a part in three Utrecht goals.

Utrecht are delighted with the progression of their former Brisbane Roar contingent, which includes Michael Zullo, Adam Sarota and Oar.

Stopping by training in the days before Utrecht’s game against Heracles on September 18 – in which he was to provide the cross for the equalizer in the 2-2 draw – Oar is a bundle of positive energy.

He had his shooting boots on, finding the back of the net more often than not in the 1-2 drill.

Now 19, Oar still cuts a compact figure among his club’s squad, but size has never been a problem before and is not at Utrecht.

“Not bigger, but better,” remarked Utrecht media man Harry van Dam.

Searching for the right words, Van Dam makes gestures with his hands that can only mean the art of crossing: “He has a very good…”

Impressive as he has been for his club, however, it has not been enough to earn Socceroos selection since his late call up to 2011 Asian Cup.
Like any good international manager, Osieck has a Holmesian-like deliberation to his decisions.

He would have his reasons, even if they so far remain unknown.
Osieck threw open the doors of selection upon his appointment, handing opportunities to several players who had been ignored under predecessor Pim Verbeek.

Sasa Ognenovski, Matt McKay, Neil Kilkenny and Nathan Coe have all been welcomed into the Socceroos fold by the likable German, while youth has been added in the form of Michael Zullo, Robbie Kruse and Adam Sarota.
But now, 13 months into his tenure, there are signs that Osieck is beginning to settle on his preferred selections.

Scott McDonald’s search for an elusive maiden Socceroos goal has not ceased to dog him under Osieck, and – despite an industrious performance against Wales on August 10 – he failed to win selection for Malaysia and Oman.

Hertha Berlin forward Nikita Rukavytsya’s chances under Osieck have proved even rarer, with Fortuna Düsseldorf striker Kruse instead rewarded for taking his opportunities despite the disparity in the status of their clubs.

Osieck does not appear to be the sort of manager who would close the door to any player based simply on performances, but it does appear that the likes of Rukavytsya and McDonald have work to do to convince the German of their worth for the Socceroos.

Is Oar in the same boat? Despite appearing to finally find his feet in Holland, the confidence of Utrecht and the support of Australian fans means little.

Because when it comes to the Socceroos, the only one who needs to dig Oar, of course, is Holger.