By SHAM MAJID
Liverpool great Ian Rush says the Reds will continue to look to Australia for unpolished gems as the game continues to grow down under.
Speaking to Goal Australia after Tuesday's press conference promoting the friendly between Liverpool and Melbourne Victory on July 24 at the MCG, Rush said that the Reds were always looking out for talented players around the globe.
"I think if they are good enough - that's what you have got to look at," Rush said when asked if the English Premier League club was monitoring Australian talent.
"Australia qualified for the World Cups in 2006 and 2010 and they have got some great players and we have also got our scouting system throughout the world."
Australians Craig Johnston and Harry Kewell spent time at the Reds - one of the most-supported clubs in Australia - during their careers, while goalkeeper Brad Jones is the 18-time league champions' current No.2.
And Rush sees no reason why more of their countrymen cannot take to the famous Anfield pitch.
"I think with the three of them playing for Liverpool, if anyone from Australia does come there, I think it would be an advantage for us to do that," Rush said.
"But they obviously have to be good enough to do that first."
Rush was also encouraged by the development of football in Australia: "You keep an eye on it, especially when [former Red] Robbie Fowler was playing [North Queensland Fury and Perth Glory] and you see the odd game here and there," he said.
"I think football here is up and coming and more supporters are coming here to watch them now and I think that is what it is all about."
"I think when you qualify for World Cups, kids have a hero they can look up to and I think from the grassroots point of view, that will help the growth of local football as well."
Rush, who is Liverpool's all-time leading goal-scorer with 346 goals, spoke on behalf of Liverpool as the Reds look towards their friendly against Victory at the MCG on July 24.
Tickets for the match - the Reds' first in Australia - have already been sold out.
Liverpool's scheduled visit is the second by an English Premier League side in July, with newly-crowned league champions Manchester United playing the A-League All Stars on July 20, four days before Brendan Rodgers' side take on Ange Postecoglou's Victory outfit.