There are some crucial clashes for some of our Aussies playing overseas this weekend, with some intriguing match-ups in England, Europe and Asia.
With each weekend an opportunity to press their claims for a spot in Bert van Marwijk’s FIFA World Cup squad, the time is now to make every minute on the pitch count.
Here’s a look at what’s ahead for some of our national stars this weekend.
AUSSIES TO TAKE CENTRE-STAGE AT THE AMEX
It’s starting to get tight towards the relegation zone in the English Premier League, giving greater importance to this weekend’s (midnight Saturday AEST) clash between Mat Ryan’s Brighton and Hove Albion and Aaron Mooy’s Huddersfield Town.
Both sides are coming off disappointing defeats in the EPL and have dropped perilously close to the bottom three.
Ryan’s Brighton are currently on 34 points, six clear of the drop zone with seven games still to play.
It’s even more concerning for Mooy’s Terriers, who are just three points and two places ahead of Southampton in 18th spot, with the Saints having a game in hand.
While Brighton have been in better recent form than Huddersfield, it was Mooy’s side who prevailed 2-0 when the two sides played at John Smith’s Stadium back in December.
David Wagner’s side will have to find a way past the Aussie no.1 if they are to get the three points to pull them away from the basement.
MORE AUSSIE MATCH-UPS IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP
Massimo Luongo will be out to continue his scoring streak in the Championship when his QPR side visits Jackson Irvine’s Hull City (midnight Saturday AEST).
Luongo has scored four goals in his last seven appearances for QPR, who are currently 15th on the ladder.
The Tigers are also seemingly safe from the relegation zone after an excellent recent run of results, including a midweek draw with champions-elect Wolves.
Hull is seven points clear of the bottom three in 18th spot.
Elsewhere, Millwall will be out to extend their unbeaten run in the league to 15 games when they travel to Bailey Wright’s Bristol City on Saturday (midnight AEST).
While Meredith should again start at left-back for the Lions, Cahill will be hoping for some coveted game time ahead of the World Cup.
It’s a massive game for both clubs who are currently level on 62 points, just one point outside the playoff places.
And Mile Jedinak’s Aston Villa should consolidate their spot in the top four when they host Norwich on Saturday night (9.30pm AEST).
Caltex Socceroos goalkeeper Danny Vukovic will be chasing some revenge when his Genk takes on Standard Liege in Belgium this weekend.
It was Liege who beat Genk 1-0 in last month’s Belgian Cup final, denying Vukovic his first piece of silverware with the club.
Fellow gloveman Brad Jones is also in action in the Netherlands, as his Feyenoord travels to FC Twente (9.30pm Sunday AEST) fresh from their 5-0 win last time out.
Feyenoord are still in the hunt for European qualification but need all three points in this one.
Elsewhere in the Eredivisie, Craig Goodwin and Kenneth Dougall’s Sparta Rotterdam face a must-win clash against VVV Venlo on Sunday (4.45am AEST), while later that night (10.30pm AEST) Ajdin Hrustic’s Groningen are on the road against Heerenveen.
In Germany, Mathew Leckie’s Hertha Berlin could jump into the top half of the Bundesliga table if they can topple Borussia Monchengladbach on Saturday night (11.30pm AEST).
Hertha, in 11th, are just one point behind ninth-placed ‘Gladbach.
In the second tier, Robbie Kruse’s Bochum are in desperate need of the three points as they chase promotion as they head to Fortuna Dusseldorf on Saturday (2.30am AEST).
Brandon Borrello will also hope to continue his good form in the 2.Bundesliga when his Kaiserslautern do battle with Jahn Regensburg on Sunday night (9.30pm AEST).
Tom Rogic’s Celtic were held to a goalless draw in midweek but will fancy scoring a few goals on their trip to Hamilton Academical on Sunday night (9.30pm AEST).
Also in the SPL, Jamie Maclaren’s Hibernian are on the road against Ross County (Saturday midnight AEST), while Ryan Edwards’ Partick Thistle are at home against Kilmarnock at the same time.
Aussie defender Trent Sainsbury could be in line to make his Grasshopper Zurich debut in Switzerland when they face FC Zurich in the derby on Sunday morning (3am AEST).
At the same time in the Swiss Super League, Tomi Juric will be out to score in back-to-back games as his FC Luzern travels to FC Thun.
In Turkey, Aziz Behich’s Bursaspor are at home against Kasimpasa, while Caltex Socceroos newcomer Aleksandar Susnjar should be in Mlada Boleslav’s starting side for their clash with Jablonec in the Czech Republic.
After making his J-League debut last weekend, Caltex Socceroos attacker Andrew Nabbout will be hoping for more game time for the desperate Urawa Reds on Saturday (5pm AEST).
Urawa have yet to win a game from the opening five rounds and host second-placed and unbeaten Vegalta Sendai.
Elsewhere in Japan, Mitch Duke’s high-flying Shimizu S-Pulse will be strong favourites against Jubilo Iwata (4pm Saturday (AEST), while Mitch Langerak will hope to start between the sticks for Nagoya Grampus’ trip to Consadole Sapporo (3pm Sat AEST).
On Sunday (5pm AEST), Milos Degenek’s Yokohama F.Marinos will get a test of their recent resurgence when they host Kawasaki Frontale.
In the K-League, Matt Jurman will hope to make his long-awaited return from injury as his Suwon Bluewings take on FC Seoul (3pm Sunday AEST), while 24 hours earlier Kwabena Appiah should be in Incheon United’s starting side for their clash with Jeonnam Dragons.
And there’s a huge clash for Mark Milligan in the Saudi Pro League, with his Al Ahli doing battle with Al Hilal.
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