Football 1 year ago

Leckie revels as coach Ange's pet

  • Leckie revels as coach Ange's pet

    PERTH, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 01: Mathew Leckie of Australia is chased by Ali Abbas of Iraq during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier match between the Australian Socceroos and Iraq at nib Stadium on September 1, 2016 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

In a Socceroos setup where comfortable is a dirty word, Mathew Leckie might be the odd one out.

No player has been picked as often as Leckie during Ange Postecoglou's time as senior coach.

Not veteran goalscorer Tim Cahill (25 caps), captain Mile Jedinak (23), stalwart Mark Milligan (23) or first-choice goalkeeper Mat Ryan (22).

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It's Leckie - with 28 caps from Postecoglou's 33 matches in charge - who is the coaches' pet.

Of a total 33 games wearing the national team shirt, Thursday night's match against Iraq might have been his finest.

Postecoglou said the 25-year-old turned in a brilliant performance in a new, more central and focal role.

While the opponents and the roles keep changing, Leckie said seeing his name keep appearing on the teamsheet brought huge confidence.

"Coming into camp every time, you feel relaxed and you know the drill," he said.

"I feel very comfortable here.

"We've been together for a long time, playing the same style, we know exactly what we have to do."

Postecoglou said he expected even more improvement from the Germany based-forward.

"He should be going into the peak of his career," he said.

"The majority of our team ... have got this World Cup and the next World Cup to hit their peak.

"They're all growing and all becoming more confident."

A heavy rotation of players is expected on Tuesday night (Wednesday morning AEST) to help manage sweltering conditions in Abu Dhabi for the match against the United Arab Emirates.

Leckie said whether he starts the match on the pitch or on the bench, his attitude is the same.

"The way Ange has put the team together, everyone's pretty important," he said.

"Time and again we've had games where the bench has decided the result.

"He told us before the (Iraq) game he could have put out two or three line-ups he would have been confident with, but he'd gone with the one he felt would be most dangerous.'

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