Richard Garcia and Mile Sterjovski are set to fight for the honour of starting against Uzbekistan in Australia’s right-midfielder berth, which has been vacated by the injured Brett Emerton.
The Socceroos had vastly contrasting fortunes to the ends to their respective seasons in English football last term.
Hull attacker Richard Garcia played a massive 57 games and scored a cracking individual goal during his team’s 6-1 aggregate victory over Watford during the semi-final of the Championship play-offs. Hull eventually gained promotion to the English top flight for the first in their 105 year history.
Derby, meanwhile, dropped down to the Championship from the Premier League and the 27-year-old was completely frozen out of the first team by manager Paul Jewell.
This season has seen both players have to work hard to retain their place in their respective teams.
Garcia: I Just Want To Play
The 27-year-old Hull City player had to do with limited time on the field as Hull City won six out of their first nine matches, losing only once, and along the way beating Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.
However, Hull returned to the relegation pack and the Tigers now lie perilously close to the drop zone, only four points away from 18th placed Newcastle.
Describing his up and down season, the Perth-born attacker spoke at a press conference at Santa Sabina college.
“We still have the belief but things are just not going our way at the minute,” Garcia said. “Hopefully we can get more wins and get the points on the board that we need.”
When asked how he was handling life in the English Premier League, Garcia talked about the confidence playing in the top flight has given him.
“It’s fantastic, I had a bit of a taste of it when I was younger at West Ham, though not as much as I would have liked,” he said.
“Now I’m comfortable, it’s been really good.
“I’m just happy I got to that level, know I can play at that level and be comfortable at that level.”
The former Hammers player is now looming as a possible replacement for the injured Brett Emerton for the upcoming World Cup qualifier against Uzbekistan.
He continued, “At the moment he [national team boss Pim Verbeek] has got me playing on the right hand side of midfield but what he’s got in mind for me I don’t really know.”
Naturally an attacker or right-winger, when asked where he preferred to play Garcia concluded, “I’m not really bothered as long as I play.”
Sterjovski Hails Clough Effect
Mile Sterjovski could also play on the right of midfield during next Wednesday’s crucial qualifier - the Socceroos are hoping to be the first team to secure their place at the 2010 World Cup with victory.
Nigel Clough’s introduction at Derby has seen the midfielder’s fortunes change for the better following Jewell's departure.
With his then-new manager in the stands he produced a great performance against Manchester United in the first leg of the League Cup semi-final, providing an assist that led to a surprise 1-0 victory for the Rams.
The 39-cap Socceroo spoke of his difficult time and the effect Nigel Cough has had on him. “There was quite a long time where I was left out,” he lamented. “I was working hard, I was doing all things that I normally do and for whatever reason it wasn’t happening.
“To get Nigel Clough in was breath of fresh air. He has given me a chance and I’m grateful for that.
“We have a very good relationship; I really like his training and his methods.
“The only thing I would like is to have more game time. Hopefully things will turn round in that aspect, things have improved a lot and I have a good relationship with him.”
When asked about the role former Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek wants him to play next Wednesday; Sterjovski replied thoughtfully, “I don’t know at the moment, I’m working towards getting a start. I’m hungry to play and I love playing for Australia. I’ve got a few days to try and convince the coach to start me.”
When quizzed on his lack of game-time and its effect on his international chances, Sterjovski was realistic. “[It] definitely makes it harder," he said. “I’ve had a few games recently that I’ve played in the past and that will help my cause. We will see what happens at the end of the week.”
Con Stamocostas, Goal.com