Opinion: Schwarzer certain to start in Brazil

Taking the job as Petr Cech's understudy at Chelsea can only mean one thing - Holger Osieck has promised Mark Schwarzer the Socceroos' number one jersey at the 2014 FIFA World Cup

Barring injury, Mark Schwarzer is guaranteed to start for Australia at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

That is the message sent out by his decision to sign for Chelsea, where Petr Cech is the undisputed number one.

Only the personal assurance of Socceroos coach Holger Osieck that his position is not under threat will have been enough to convince Schwarzer to opt for a season on the bench at Stamford Bridge.

Having been offered a likely spot as reserve behind Maarten Stekelenburg, the 40-year-old turned down a one-year contract extension at Fulham, publically stating his desire to secure first-team Premier League next season.

Promoted Hull, in need of an experienced shot-stopper, were close to signing the free agent but were not able to match Schwarzer's wage demands and they duly snapped up Scotland goalkeeper Allan McGregor.

That left the former Middlesbrough stalwart's options thin on the ground - nearly every other Premier League club already had a clear first-choice custodian.

Given his desire not to relocate his family, England's second-tier Championship loomed as Schwarzer's most likely destination.

One of his predecessors as the Socceroos' number one, Mark Bosnich, called for the man who left Marconi Stallions 19 years ago to return to Australia, and prepare for his final World Cup with a full season in the A-League.

Surely there were advances from continental Europe? Schwarzer had brief stints at Dynamo Dresden and Kaiserslautern in a past life, and might have been tempted to try his luck across the English Channel for a second time.

But instead he stunned Australian football fans and media alike by sealing a move to Jose Mourinho's Chelsea.

A seven-minute cab ride through west London's affluent suburbs, the switch from Craven Cottage to Stamford Bridge could not have been more perfect, at least in terms of lifestyle.

But the chances of Schwarzer displacing Cech, who starred under Mourinho during the Portuguese's first spell at the club and has kept his place ever since, are remote.

True, the Czech Republic international suffered a slight dip in form for several years after fracturing his skull against Reading in 2006, but a resurgence in recent seasons means the 31-year-old - approaching the prime of his goalkeeping life - is quite assured of keeping his place between the sticks.

Indeed, prodigious Belgian Thibaut Courtois, set to spend a third successive season on loan from Chelsea at Atletico Madrid, looms as a far more likely long-term challenger to Cech's crown than Schwarzer, who is finally approaching the twilight of his marathon career.

The outlook for Australia's Mr Reliable in 2013/14 consists of a regular place in League Cup and FA Cup matches, and perhaps a handful of Premier League appearances, if Cech picks up a minor injury.

The best-case scenario for Schwarzer is for Cech to be ruled out of action long-term, affording him an opportunity to fulfil his dream of competing regularly at the very highest level.

Remember, he was denied a chance to join Arsenal in 2010, when then-Fulham manager Mark Hughes prevented him from entering talks over a switch to the Emirates Stadium.

Perhaps, just perhaps, it was a desire to realise those ambitions which swayed his decision to gamble on accepting a fringe place at Chelsea.

What does Schwarzer value more? The slim chance of playing regularly for a Champions League team, or representing his country at a third successive World Cup, and cementing beyond doubt his reputation as Australia's greatest goalkeeper?

Fortunately, that is a tough call the veteran is unlikely to have had to make.

If Osieck's past form is anything to go on, an experienced campaigner such as Schwarzer is - when fit - almost certain to play ahead of any challengers, even with a lengthy queue of worthy candidates fighting to inherit his gloves.

Mitchell Langerak, Mat Ryan, Eugene Galekovic and Adam Federici, among others - Australia is blessed with great depth in that position, and any one of the aforementioned shot-stoppers is likely to find themselves lining up to sing the national anthem in years to come.

But for now Schwarzer is Osieck's main man, and not even a season spent riding the pine at Chelsea will do anything to change that.

Goal Australia now has its own and account, so for all the latest news and features on Australian football follow us by clicking on the above links