The Socceroos squad to face Ecuador next month might look to the future but is the biggest indication yet just how far the Hyundai A-League has come.
Ange Postecoglou's Socceroos squad to face Ecuador next month might look to the future but is the biggest indication yet just how far the Hyundai A-League has come.
Of the 23 players named for next Thursday's clash in London, 16 of them have - or currently are - playing for Hyundai A-League clubs.
Only veterans Tim Cahill and Luke Wilkshire, defenders Chris Herd, Jason Davidson and Ryan McGowan, goal-keeper Brad Jones and Massimo Luongo haven't featured in the A-League before.
It's a sure sign of the continued improvement of the A-League and how the competition has become a serious platform to progress to the national team.
The increase has been rapid and mirrors the speed at which the competition is going from strength to strength.
But why has it taken this long?
The number of 'older' Socceroos who have returned home to play in the A-League has certainly helped lift the standard across the board.
And you can't underestimate the impact marquee players such as Alessandro Del Piero, Shinji Ono and Emile Heskey as well.
While previous Socceroos managers Pim Verbeek and (to a lesser extent) Holger Osieck were reluctant to select players from the A-League, Postecoglou certainly has faith in the local game.
He has seen first-hand just how much the league and it's players have developed during his time with both Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Victory.
Postecoglou has arguably had the biggest impact on that improvement so it's only fair now he is reaping the rewards of that.
Whether the current number of 16 remains in Postecoglou's final World Cup squad, it seems certain the total will significantly improve on that of the last two tournaments. Only seven members of the 2010 World Cup squad in South Africa had A-League links while it was only two players in Germany four years earlier.
Of course, the most talented young Australian players always have and will continue to try their luck at bigger clubs abroad.
But the progression of all aspects of the A-League means they will head there now much better prepared.
You only need to look at a few members of this current squad to get a clear example of that.
The likes of Oliver Bozanic (FC Luzern), James Holland (Austria Vienna), Mile Jedinak (Crystal Palace), Tommy Oar (FC Utrecht) and Mat Ryan (Club Brugge) have progressed directly from their A-League clubs and made an immediate impact in Europe.
Australia is at this stage not - and may not get to - the level of say Japan and South Korea, who's national team is made up predominantly of locally-based players.
But the numbers are definitely on the way up which is encouraging signs for fans of the Socceroos and the Hyundai A-League.
MATCH DETAILS: Socceroos v Ecuador The Den, London Wednesday 5 March 2014 8pm kick off (7.00am AEDT)
The Socceroos v Ecuador match will be broadcast LIVE and Exclusive on FOX Sports 3 with a 30-minute pre-game show starting at 6.30am (AEDT) ahead of the 7.00am kick off.
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