Fighting hard: Mat Ryan has had to battle for the No.1 jersey at Valencia. Photo: Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty ImagesSocceroos fans might get worried if established national team players lose their first-team places at their overseas clubs, but Australia coach Ange Postecoglou does not share their concerns – as long as they show character and commitment to battle their way back to the starting XI or match-day squad.
It means, he says, that they are mentally tough and have the wherewithal to shrug off temporary problems to come through in the end.
Those are the qualities he knows his players need to progress from arduous and logistically challenging Asian World Cup qualifying groups, and when they get to the finals themselves.
In recent times midfield stalwarts Massimo Luongo and captain Mile Jedinak have had time on the sidelines at their clubs, Queens Park Rangers and Crystal Palace, respectively, while goalkeeper Mat Ryan has not always been guaranteed the No.1 berth at his Spanish team, Valencia.
But all three have knuckled down and are now playing more football, showing the sort of character that Postecoglou wants.
Interestingly, all three players are at clubs where their situation changed when the manager who signed them or under whom they established themselves left the club and a new face came in.
Postecoglou, who is in Doha watching the Olyroos in the Olympic qualifying tournament, also believes a number of youngsters who are not in the Olympic squad, such as Liverpool’s Brad Smith and Aston Villa’s Jordan Lyden, are starting to make the breakthrough with their Premier League clubs.
“He’s [Brad Smith] going well. It’s important that they are starting to break through. I have been pretty pleased with the progress. Young Jordan Lyden played for Villa last night [in their Cup replay with Wycombe Wanderers] at right-back and is beginning to make some inroads.
“Mass Luongo played really well at the weekend. He has had to battle for his position but I think that is a good thing.
“It’s the same with Maty Ryan. He seems to have wrestled the No.1 jersey back [at Valencia], which I think is fantastic.
“People get a little panicky when our players don’t get selected, but I think that fighting and earning the shirt, particularly when a lot of our guys this year have faced a change in manager, shows me that they have what it takes to reach the very top.”
Luongo had been linked with a move away from QPR in the January window, but has stayed put.
“That’s the way football works, you have a change of manager, the manager who buys you moves on, the new manager comes in and you have to prove yourself … you can cut and run, or stay there and fight for it. Mass has shown he is a fighter. I watched his game at the weekend, I thought he was excellent. He played really well and they had a win which helps as well.
“Knowing Mass he is not the one that is going to cut and run. He will prove to people that he is good enough to play, and I think that’s a good thing. It’s part of your development as a footballer, to fight and convince people that you are good enough to play rather than at the first sign of things not working out you move to somewhere else.”
*Australia will play their final World Cup tie of the current qualifying phase against Jordan at Allianz Stadium in Sydney on March 29, it was announced on Wednesday.