Aussies Abroad: Mooy ready to step up

Australian midfielder Aaron Mooy is delighted to be back playing football after a frustrating back injury delayed his start to the season.

Australian midfielder Aaron Mooy is delighted to be back playing football after a frustrating back injury delayed his start to the season.

Mooy - who joined Scottish Premier League outfit St. Mirren in October 2010 and helped them avoid relegation - starred for the Qantas Australian U23s over the off-season, impressing in the 2012 London Olympic Games qualifiers.

All signs pointed to a breakout year for the 21-year-old, only for him to injure his back on the eve of the season, leading to six months on the sidelines.

"The injury came at a bad time," Mooy said.

" It was pretty frustrating because I had to do all the pre-season training again to get fit. I was just looking forward to getting a good start to the season."

"Injuries happen in football though, so I just had to stay mentally strong and get on with it. Now I'm just really happy to be back from injury and be around the team and squad."

After 26 minutes as a substitute in a 1-1 draw against Motherwell, Mooy was quickly called into the starting line-up as they prepared for the visit of Rangers, who were on top of the league and gunning for their fourth straight SPL title.

Rangers quickly took the lead but a red card evened things up before Mooy bagged his first league goal for his club in outstanding fashion, with the former Bolton youngster turning and jinking past two Rangers defenders before he smashed an unstoppable strike with his left foot from just inside the penalty area.

That was the equaliser and just moments later St Mirren scored again as they produced a famous 2-1 win against the Scottish giants.

"It was a great day for the team and for me," Mooy said.

"I was due a goal so I was really relieved that it hit the net for the team. It was just great to be on the pitch. We got the three points which is great and I was really happy that we won."

In four league matches since, St. Mirren are without a win but remain a point off sixth place, with their style of football earning positive reviews.

"The club's goal this season was to try and get in the top six. I think we have been doing really well and we are not far off it. The manager wants us to get us passing the ball. The way we play, it's great to be a part of the team."

Mooy's move to Scotland raised eyebrows at the time, with the Sydney-born midfielder rejecting a new deal at Bolton - a club he had been with for five years- in favour of regular first-team football.

He trialled at PSV in Holland, Galatasaray in Turkey and Crystal Palace in the Championship before linking up with the Paisley Park outfit in Scotland.

"I wanted to play first-team football because I thought I was ready. I had been in the reserves for a few years (at Bolton) and I was ready for the next level."

"Bolton was a great club and a big team. Being there was wonderful and I loved every minute of it. But right now I'm at St. Mirren and I'm really enjoying it."

Mooy nominated training with the likes of Kevin Nolan, Gary Cahill and Kevin Davies as his highlight in his stint at Bolton, who he joined at the age of 16 after a scout visited the Westfields Sports High School in Sydney and liked what he saw.

Throughout Mooy's short career, he has enjoyed success when representing his country - be it for the U23s or the Young Socceroos, with his excellent first touch and neat passing game catching the eye.

A free-kick against Brazil in the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in 2009 showed just what the level-headed youngster is capable of, as did his terrific showing in the Terborg Tournament - a youth-team competition featuring some of the best sides in the world - in the same year.

In 2009, youth teams from Ajax, Liverpool and Valencia were involved in the competition but Mooy took out the prestigious player of the tournament award as the Young Socceroos finished third.

Mooy - who has been touted for Qantas Socceroos honours - is hoping he gets a chance to shows his wares at the 2012 Olympics if Australia are to qualify.

"It is always great to play for your country. I'm always happy when I am involved and it would mean the world (to play at the Olympics). Everyone wants to play for their country and just being involved in the set-up is great."

"I've just got to keep trying to play well at St. Mirren and hopefully I get selected."

Mooy has been in line for senior selection for some time and his selection at the 2011 national teams training camp squad in Germany proved that.

The initiative, which saw 22 players across Europe not involved with the Socceroos at the time selected for a training camp and friendlies , was overseen by Australia boss Holger Osieck, FFA technical director Han Berger and U23s coach Aurelio Vidmar.

Designed to identify European-based players who could play a part in 2014 World Cup qualifying, 2012 Olympics qualifying and the 2011 FIFA Under-20 World Cup, a wide range of players were chosen for selection.

"I'd love to see more of that,” Mooy said. “It was a great set-up. We had a few games and there were a lot of good players there. It was just great to be involved and it was really professional."

"It was great to see that all the coaches were watching over us and seeing how we are doing."

There is no doubt that those in charge of the camp took interest at Mooy's strike against Rangers and you can be sure they will be keeping a close eye on him as the season progresses.