Socceroo ready for Spanish hardmen

Midfielder James Holland says his UCL experience with club side Austria Vienna has him ready to fight fire-with-fire against the Socceroos' tough – and in some cases "dirty" - World Cup opponents.

Holland linked up with the Socceroos camp on the NSW Central Coast on Saturday night after completing a strong season with the Austrian giants.

The 25-year-old was consigned to just light duties at training on Sunday as he tries to get over the long flight and some jet lag.

Having played in the UEFA Champions League this season, Holland is well aware of the quality of the players the Socceroos will face at the tournament.

His club side was grouped with newly-crowned Spanish champions and UCL finalists Atletico Madrid who possess a number of players in the Spain side that will take on the Socceroos.

And the Central Coast junior is bracing himself for a torrid battle when they take on the world champions and their striker Diego Costa in particular.

"He's a fantastic player. Very dirty, but fantastic," Holland said after the Socceroos' fan day at Central Coast Stadium.

"[We might need to fight fire with fire]. But he takes it to a new level.

 "The Champions League experience certainly helps. I had a full season and I was able to experience some Champions League games, so it can only help me.

"It was good to test myself against those kind of players. That's the level you're expecting in the World Cup as well."

Holland wasn't the only new arrival in camp on Sunday, with Crystal Palace skipper Mile Jedinak also arriving in Gosford as he recovers from his groin injury.

Tim Cahill, Matthew Spiranovic, Matthew Leckie and Ben Halloran will all meet up with the squad on Sunday night.


Despite being just 25, Holland is one of the more experienced players in Ange Postecoglou's preliminary 30-man squad striving to make the final cut for Brazil.

The former Newcastle Jets star, who has 12 caps to his name, is well aware of the need to hit the training ground hard with the wealth of midfield talent at Postecoglou's disposal.

"Ange is fair, I know if you do well on the training field you will get your chance," Holland said.

"It's up to us at the end of the day.

"He [Postecoglou] doesn't necessarily look at experience, he looks at form and hopefully I can put my best foot forward.

"For me, it was an inconsistent season. The last couple of months personally I've felt good but before that was a bit up and down. I'm just excited to come in and show what I can do."

Asked what he expected from the remainder of the camp before heading to Brazil to take on the world's best, Holland added: "Ange will prepare us to perform well and to play our kind of football.

"It's the first time he's had us for a long time. He can instill his philosophy and how he wants to play and put us in good stead for the World Cup."

Send Off the Socceroos

Socceroos vs South Africa, presented by NAB

Monday 26 May 2014
ANZ Stadium, Sydney 
Kick-off: 7.30pm

Tickets from $30, including public transport. Buy now!