Football 3 years ago

How Postecoglou stumbled across Meredith

  • How Postecoglou stumbled across Meredith

James Meredith has a Bradford City staffer and a few DVDs to thank for his Socceroos debut.

The 27-year-old earned his first international cap in Thursday night's 3-0 mauling of Kyrgyzstan on the road to Russia.

But he would never have been in Canberra - or indeed the Socceroos set-up at all - had Ange Postecoglou not stumbled across the unheralded defender in England.

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Early in Postecoglou's tenure and during a worldwide talent sweep, the manager took a trip to Swindon Town to check out the precociously skilled Massimo Luongo.

Australia's future Asian Cup hero was playing fellow League One side Bradford that day.

Meredith, injured and nowhere to be seen, seemed destined to fly under the national coach's radar.

That was until one of Bradford's officials approached Postecoglou and told him he should also watch out for the other Aussie kid - the one on their books - and duly handed over several DVDs of the Albury-born boy in action.

Postecoglou, known for watching up to 50 football matches a week, had a look and was impressed.

He kept tabs on Meredith's progress, eventually naming him in a squad this October for the Socceroos' qualifier with Jordan in Amman.

Though Meredith sat on the bench as an unused substitute for the 2-0 humiliation, it was only a month later that the pacy, attack-minded left-back got the call-up he'd long been waiting for.

Regular starter Jason Davidson had a calf niggle in training this week, and Meredith was deemed to be in better shape for Thursday's crucial clash at GIO Stadium.

Only learning he would start on debut the morning of the match, his family flew straight to Canberra to watch as all those years grinding away in England's lower leagues and the Conference finally paid off.

A nervy early wobble soon gave way to an eye-catching performance, as the surprise choice proved a valuable asset for the hosts down the left flank.

Skipper Mile Jedinak labelled it a "fantastic" performance while the coach also praised the late bloomer, who jubilantly gifted his sweaty shirt to his cousin on the sidelines.

"That trip to Bradford was worth it," Postecoglou said.

"It was a good first game for him.

"It's always hard - your first game for Australia, regardless of the circumstances or opposition, you're going to be nervous and anxious.

"I thought he handled himself really well."

Meredith was encouraged by the compliment.

"I wanted to attack the space in front of me and do all the things the manager had asked and wanted from me," he said.

"I wanted to get at them, press them and try to create opportunities for the team.

"But most of all, I wanted the win.

"I have to keep my head down now and work hard, and hopefully be involved in another game."

That might happen sooner rather than later depending how Davidson pulls up, with the next World Cup qualifier against already-eliminated Bangladesh only three days away.

With a line now drawn under the Jordan sand and normality resumed, Australia will travel to Dhaka on a mission for another three points and a win no less merciless than September's 5-0 scoreline in Perth.

Meredith is hoping Tuesday might bring another dose of the "really good feeling".

"I'm just really happy I put in a good display, a decent display.

"And I'm really happy for the team as well."

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