Milligan hails England, Greece games for Socceroos

While disappointed with the result against England, Caltex Socceroo Mark Milligan admits it’s been beneficial to get more experience against non-Asian opposition to learn more about how the Aussies are travelling.

But the Australian midfielder expects Greece, who are in a rebuilding phase after missing out on Euro 2016, to present a different challenge in the Dodoni Series to Roy Hodgson's England side, who beat Australia 2-1 in Sunderland last week. 

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“England had a lot of pace up front where I think it might be a little bit more of a patient match against Greece,” the Baniyas midfielder told reporters on Wednesday. 

“But we’re playing a world class side with world class players. It will be up to us again, we’ll want to set the tempo and play the way we do.

“It was good having a game against England and now these two against Greece to find the way that teams do things and make sure we can cope with many different aspects of the game.

England's Marcus Rashford fights for the ball with Socceroos midfielder Mark Milligan.

“What’s most important to us, that each time we step out on the field, whether it’s the training track or on match day that we’re improving as a team,” Milligan added.

“We’ve created a lot of depth over the last few years and everybody seems to be on the same page and heading in the right direction.”

The Socceroos will hit the training pitch for the first time on Wednesday afternoon since arriving back in Sydney late on Sunday night.

And Milligan says adaptability and being able to cover many positions is a strength of the Caltex Socceroos and is becoming the norm to be successful in world football.

Milligan, an accomplished midfielder for the Socceroos for a number of years, shifted to defence against England last week and did a superb job handling the likes of Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling and Wayne Rooney.

It’s not the first time Milligan has had to play out of position for the national team, ending the AFC Asian Cup final against Korea Republic at right-back after an injury to Ivan Franjic.

Mark Milligan.

According to the 30-year-old, that kind of flexibility has become standard in football in recent years and can be an advantage for the Socceroos.

“Football around the world has changed the last four or five years…it’s a lot more of a dynamic game than it was 10 years ago,” Milligan told reporters at a school visit in Sydney’s east on Wednesday.

“You do need to be able to do a variety of different things and play a variety of different roles.

“The majority of the [Socceroos] can do that. It just happened to be my turn to do something a little bit different…it’s just how we do it.”

Milligan admitted he was originally taken aback when coach Ange Postecoglou told him he would play at the back against England but was well prepared to handle the challenge.

Ange Postecoglou gives instructions to midfielder Mark Milligan during a FIFA World Cup Qualifier.

“We’re very fortunate that the set-up we have now in the Socceroos, we get a lot of information and our coaches do a lot of work on the opposition,” he said.

“Once we sat down and did our analysis and everything I was quite comfortable with the situation because all the information I needed was there and available for me.”