Caltex Socceroo striker Mathew Leckie says the value of the games against Greece can’t be understated, stressing the chance to boost Australia's standing in world football and give added experience to the squad’s younger players.
Speaking at the team hotel on Thursday ahead of Saturday's friendly with Greece in Sydney, the FC Ingolstadt attacker feels the Socceroos are beginning to get the recognition they deserve as they build towards the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
A regular member of the squad for a few years now, Leckie has been impressed by the depth of talent unearthed by coach Ange Postecoglou.
These games against Greece in Sydney and Melbourne are giving the likes of Alex Gersbach, Jason Geria, Milos Degenek and Jamie Maclaren a taste of the international game.
“These are still very important games for us because from this it determines where you are ranked in the FIFA rankings and we as a nation want to make that better,” Leckie told reporters.
“We’ve already done that over the last couple of years and we want to continue that.
“Greece is a strong side, they missed out on the Euros but they have a lot of good players and should be a good test.
"It’s also a chance to have a look at players who haven’t played in a lot of games for the national team.
He added on uncapped Geria and Gersbach: “They are young determined guys with a lot of motivation to make their debuts.
“I remember my first few games for the national team. When you get the chance you have to take it I’m sure they are ready, they have been in a couple of camps now, they know how we play and are very promising in training, they are definitely at the level and I’m pretty excited to see how they go as well.”
Leckie – along with Asian-based Tim Cahill, Nathan Burns and Apostolos Giannou – missed the England game, allowing youngster Jamie Maclaren to make his green and gold debut in attack.
And Leckie was left impressed by the impact the Brisbane Roar star made against England’s array of EPL stars.
“He’s a good young talent, he proved that in the A-League, scored a lot of goals with Brisbane it’s always good to have those players,” Leckie said of Maclaren.
“Obviously Timmy is our dominant scorer in the national team and I think we need a couple of other guys like that.
“I think he can maybe play that role and get on the end of balls to score goals. He’s shown that in the A-League, let’s hope he can show that in the national team as well.”
Leckie’s Ingolstadt ended their first season in the Bundesliga in 11th spot, with the winger playing 32 matches and believing he’s starting to belong in one of Europe’s leading leagues.
“I was part of [the Bundesliga] a few years ago with [Borussia] Moenchengladbach and didn’t get much game time,” he explained.
“I had a few seasons in the second Bundesliga to get myself ready and we were lucky enough to go up with my current team and I think we fitted in pretty well.
“I feel comfortable in the league now and I feel I belong at that level. I was happy with how the season went.”
Leckie was one of the last players to arrive in camp in Sydney after getting married at the end of the Bundesliga campaign.
He only trained lightly in the squad’s first session on Wednesday but will take part in the full session on Thursday and is confident he’ll be okay to play at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night.
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