'He deserves it' - McGrath backs Mabil for Socceroos

Brent McGrath Awer Mabil Esbjerg Danish Superliga
Esbjerg fB
The one-time Socceroos forward reckons his club team-mate is ready to step up to Australia's senior side for upcoming games against Iraq and UAE


Esbjerg winger Awer Mabil deserves a Socceroos call-up for next month's World Cup qualifiers, according to his club team-mate Brent McGrath.

Mabil has been a revelation this season on loan at Esbjerg from Danish Superliga rivals FC Midtjylland, with the 21-year-old having become central to his temporary employer's attacking set-up.


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The ex-Adelaide United forward was man of the match in Esbjerg's 3-0 win over SonderjyskE on Friday as the Superliga resumed after its winter break, with Mabil setting up the first and third goals and scoring the second.

He has been involved in more goals for Esbjerg than any other player this season with three goals and six assists, and McGrath - a one-time Socceroos forward himself - is convinced Mabil should be selected by Australia coach Ange Postecoglou for the qualifiers in March.

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"I really hope he is," McGrath told Goal.

"He's [Mabil] done well, he's done extremely well and it's about game-time and he's playing extremely well.

"I think he's adapted to Danish football, obviously he's been through hard patch at Midtjylland not playing and he's come here on loan and started playing and started scoring, and I think he deserves it."

The Socceroos visit Iraq on March 23 and host United Arab Emirates five days later.

Mabil scores stunning goal

Mabil joined Midtjylland before the 2015-16 season but made just nine senior appearances.

The Kenya-born speedster's stint at Esbjerg also started badly - he was sent off on debut - but he has recovered impressively.

"He's had to do the extra yards on the training pitch and overtake a few players two or three times just because of the red card," McGrath explained.

"He's one of those players who can make something happen out of nothing and the coach that we've got in now [Lars Lungi Sorensen] believes in his philosophy of football, so [Mabil] has been given a more free role to be able to express himself because we know that he can be so lethal."

Brent McGrath Esbjerg v Horsens Danish Superliga

While Mabil has thrived at Esbjerg, McGrath had a tough start after joining from second-tier club FC Fredericia in May.

The coach that signed the 25-year-old - Jonas Dal - was sacked five days after McGrath had started training at Esbjerg, and the striker started just seven of 21 league matches under new boss Colin Todd for a return of one goal and one assist.

McGrath signs three-year deal with Esbjerg

On Christmas Day, Esbjerg's sporting director Ted van Leeuwen was quoted in the Danish media saying the club were ready to sell or loan McGrath just six months into his three-year deal.

It was a difficult moment for the former Brondby striker, who joined Esbjerg in order to continue rebuilding his career as he looks to get back to the type of form that saw him play for the Socceroos in 2011, but McGrath decided to stay and fight.

It's seemingly paid off after another new coach Lars Lungi Sorensen, who replaced Todd in December, started McGrath in last week's victory.

"I've gone from basically getting told I can find something else to starting in the first game," McGrath said.

"Obviously, confidence-wise it's positive because things can happen quite fast in football."

McGrath relieved to end goal drought

McGrath is now focused on helping Esbjerg avoid relegation - they sit 12th in the Superliga out of 14 teams, four points ahead of last-placed Viborg - and knows goals will be critical to his long-term future in coach Lars Lungi Sorensen's line-up.

"As a striker, we are judged on our goals but I believe if I keep working hard and keep getting game-time, I'm sure the goals will come as they have done previously," he said.

McGrath scored 15 goals in 27 league games for Fredericia in 2015-16.