Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou says he would have no hesitation throwing new national team player James Meredith straight into the furnace of next month’s FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 Qualifier™ in Jordan.
Meredith was selected for the first time in his career for Australia as part of Postecoglou’s 23-man squad for the clash in Amman, rewarded for his outstanding form for League One club Bradford City.
The Socceroos boss admitted the 27-year-old had been on his radar since he first took the national team reins back in 2013 and feels the time is right to get him into camp.
“When I first got the job we cast the net pretty far and wide and he’s one that came across my path fairly early,” Postecoglou said of Meredith.
“We’ve been following him ever since. He plays as a left full-back and I still think the fullback positions is an area where we don’t have enough depth as other areas of the park.
“It’s served us well in the past to bring guys in and have a look at them in our environment and see how they fit in and he gets an opportunity to do that for this game.”
The Socceroos are sure to face an intimidating atmosphere in the stadium and were famously beaten by Jordan on their last visit in qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.
Asked if he would have any concerns throwing a debutant into that situation, Postecoglou said: “I wouldn’t have brought him in if I didn’t think I wouldn’t throw him in if the opportunity arose.
“What we do is bring them into the environment and get them to have a look at it and see how they fit in. it’s unlikely I’ll throw him in but it’s happened in the past where if we get caught short in that area he may have to be thrown in and be ready.
“The good thing is he’s playing, he’s fit, he’s playing well and it gives us an option.”
It’s been smooth sailing for the green and gold so far on the Road to Russia with wins away in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan and an easy home win over Bangladesh, but the Jordan clash is sure to be the side’s toughest test yet.
Far from daunted by the challenge, Postecoglou is relishing the battle and believes it will give him a firm indication of how well his evolution of the side is progressing.
“We’re under no illusions Jordan away is a very difficult game. We lost the last time we went there and they did very well in the World Cup qualifying campaign last time,” the Socceroos coach said.
“We know going there it’s not just about the game itself but the atmosphere will be hostile.
“It will be a great test for us. I’m kind of looking forward to it.
“I believe we’ve made progress in these three games we’ve played in this campaign and it will be a good test to see what that progress looks like.”