|By ALAN NICOLEA
Australia internationals Robbie Kruse and Mark Schwarzer were at their best on the weekend, producing dominant performances in the Bundesliga and English Premier League respectively.
Kruse solidified his place in Fortuna Dusseldorf's starting line-up by scoring two goals in the 3-1 victory over VfB Stuttgart.
Schwarzer, meanwhile, was superb in the 1-0 loss to Manchester United, making two wonderful saves in the first half before finally being beaten by a Wayne Rooney strike near full-time.
With Wednesday's international friendly against Romania on Wednesday, Socceroos coach Holgier Osieck would have been pleased to see two of Australia's best players performing strongly on the weekend.
But the same cannot be said however for Australia captain Lucas Neill, who was released from the remainder of his contract with United Arab Emirates Pro League side Al Wasl.
Neill has struggled to find form in the UAE and will be keen to find a new club quickly if he is to maintain hopes of leading Australia to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
|AUSSIES ABROAD: THE FULL ROUND-UP
James Holland (Austria Vienna) – Austria Vienna resumes their Bundesliga campaign in February.
Brent McGrath (Brondby) – Brondby resumes their Superliga campaign in March.
Adam Federici (Reading) – Well beaten by Juan Mata and Frank Lampard but otherwise barely tested in Reading's remarkable 2-2 draw with Chelsea on Wednesday. Could do nothing to deny Craig Gardner from the penalty spot but still performed strongly in Reading's 2-1 win over Sunderland on Saturday.
Brad Jones (Liverpool) – Back on the bench as Pepe Reina made his return from injury in the 2-2 draw with Arsenal on Wednesday. An unused substitute in the 2-2 draw with Manchester City on Sunday.
Brett Holman (Aston Villa) – On the bench as Aston Villa lost 2-1 at home to Newcastle on Tuesday. Replaced Karim El Ahmadi in the 82nd minute but hardly saw possession in the 3-3 draw with Everton on Saturday.
Chris Herd (Aston Villa) – Expected to be sidelined for six weeks with a foot problem.
Mark Schwarzer (Fulham) – Could do little to prevent Kevin Nolan's equaliser but still played well in the 3-1 victory over West Ham on Wednesday. Was back to his best on Saturday in the 1-0 loss to Manchester United, making two wonderful saves before conceding late to Wayne Rooney.
Sebastian Usai (Blackburn Rovers) – On the bench as Blackburn Rovers defeated Bristol City 2-0 on Saturday.
Mile Jedinak (Crystal Palace) – Played 90 minutes in the 1-0 defeat to Huddersfield on Wednesday. Did not play in the 2-1 victory over Charlton Athletic on Saturday due to an eye injury.
Patrick Kisnorbo (Ipswich Town) – An unused substitute as Ipswich Town thumped Middlesbrough 4-0 on Saturday, but has extended his loan until the end of the season.
Neil Kilkenny (Bristol City) – Did not play in the 2-0 win over Watford on Tuesday. Also absent in the 2-0 defeat to Blackburn Rovers on Saturday.
Shane Lowry (Millwall) – Started on the bench and replaced Karleigh Osborne in the 62nd minute in Millwall's 2-0 defeat to Barnsley on Tuesday. Regained his starting spot and played 90 minutes in the 1-0 defeat to Hull City on Saturday.
Scott McDonald (Middlesbrough) – Missed the 4-0 defeat to Ipswich Town due to injury.
Rhys Williams (Middlesbrough) – Played 90 minutes but struggled in the 4-0 defeat to Ipswich Town.
Robbie Kruse (Fortuna Dusseldorf) – Came to life in the 3-1 victory over Stuttgart on Saturday, scoring two goals before being replaced by Axel Bellinghausen early in the second half.
Nikita Rukavytsya (Mainz 05) – Did not play in the 3-0 defeat to Bayern Munich on Saturday.
Mitchell Langerak (Borussia Dortmund) – Enjoyed a rare start for Borussia Dortmund due to Weidenfeller's illness and deputised well, making several fine saves in the 3-2 victory over Bayer Leverkusen on Sunday.
Mustafi Amini (Borussia Dortmund) – Did not play in the 3-2 win over Bayer Leverkusen.
|GOOD WEEK/BAD WEEK|
Mathew Leckie (FSV Frankfurt) – Played 90 minutes but was unable to score in the 2-0 defeat to Ingolstadt on Sunday.
Apostolis Giannou (PAOK Thessaloniki) – Missed the 2-2 draw with Aris on Sunday.
Giannis Simosis (Kerkyra) – Did not play in the 2-2 draw with Aris on Tuesday. Also absent in the 2-0 defeat to OFI on Sunday.
Adam Sarota (Utrecht FC) – Is expected to be sidelined for up to 10 months with a knee injury.
Tommy Oar (Utrecht FC) – Did not play in the 4-2 victory over Twente on Sunday because of a hamstring problem.
Michael Zullo (Utrecht FC) – An unused substitute in the 4-2 win over Twente.
Jason Davidson (Heracles Almelo) – Was on the bench as Heracles drew 3-3 with Roda JC on Saturday.
James Troisi (Atalanta) – Was not in the squad as Atalanta defeated Palermo 2-1 on Sunday.
Carl Valeri (Sassuolo) – Absent in the 1-1 draw with Empoli on Sunday.
Caleb Patterson-Sewell (Vitoria Setubal) – Was on the bench as Vitoria Setubal slumped to a 3-0 defeat against Benfica on Sunday.
Matt Spiranovic (Al Arabi) – Played well in the 3-2 victory over Qatar SC in the Stars Cup on Sunday.
Mark Bresciano (Al Gharafa) – Al Gharafa did not play on the weekend.
Sasa Ognenovski (Umm Salal) – Struggled in the 4-1 defeat to El Jaish in the Stars Cup on Sunday.
Luke Wilkshere (Dinamo Moscow) – Dinamo Moscow resume their campaign in March.
Tomi Juric (NK Inter) – NK Inter resume their campaign in February.
Dylan McGowan (Hearts) – On the bench in the 1-0 victory over Dundee on Thursday.
Kerem Bulut (Akhisar Belediyespor) – Replaced Sertan Vardar in the 79th minute as Akhisar Belediyespor lost 2-1 to Kayserispor on Saturday.
Ersan Gulum (Besiktas) – Did not play in the 2-2 draw with Karabukspor on Saturday.
Alex Brosque (Al Ain) – Played 90 minutes in the 1-1 draw with Al Nasr in the Emirates Cup on Saturday.
Nick Carle (Bani Yas) – Played 90 minutes and was booked in the 2-1 defeat to Al Wasl in the Emirates Cup on Saturday.
Dino Djulbic (Al Wahda) – Played 90 minutes as Al Wahda came back from two goals down to defeat Dubai 3-2 in the Emirates Cup on Saturday.
Lucas Neill (Al Wasl) – Looking for a new club after he was released from the remainder of his contract.
Richard Porta (Dubai) – Did not play in the 3-2 loss to Al Wahda in the Emirates Cup.