Bradford City left back Meredith has ambition to fill Australia’s problem position (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Bradford City left back James Meredith has ambition to fill Australia’s problem position
Even for the cut-throat world of international football, sacking the coach after qualifying for the World Cup finals sounds harsh.
But Holger Osieck’s departure from the Australia hot-seat came as no shock for fans Down Under.
He was fired within 90 minutes of the final whistle of Friday’s 6-0 humiliation against France – the second successive thumping by that scoreline for the Socceroos.
Steering the Aussies to next summer’s carnival in Rio – their third successive World Cup finals – did not cut it with his bosses.
They had stumbled past the likes of Jordan and Oman and hopes are not high for an ageing squad in Brazil.
The decision to get rid of the experienced German was “based on the longer-term issues of the rejuvenation of the team”.
And that could be music to the ears of City defender James Meredith.
Left back is a position where Australia currently look particularly vulnerable.
Since the retirement of stalwart Scott Chipperfield at the end of the last World Cup, they have struggled to find a round peg for the round hole.
David Carney has been Osieck’s choice but he has hardly played any football in the past 12 months after a stint in Uzbekistan and a recent switch to the New York Red Bulls.
Carney had a particularly torrid night in Paris, conceding an early penalty before being hauled off at half-time. His replacement Jason Davidson, who plays his football in Holland, did not fare much better as the Aussies were put to the sword.
Davidson will probably get the chance in tonight’s much kinder friendly against Canada at Craven Cottage – but there is a spot in the team there for the taking.
Meredith certainly hopes so, especially with a new hand on the tiller. Osieck’s former assistant Aurelio Vidmar has taken charge for now but Guus Hiddink, their mastermind in 2006, is among the names being tipped for permanent command.
Meredith’s agent plans to give the selectors a nudge to come and at least have a look at a player who has been the model of consistency since arriving at Valley Parade from York.
Meredith said: “I’m not sure if I am in the frame. I know the Socceroo scouts tend to look for Championship and Premier League players.
“But we are doing well and I’d be confident of pushing myself towards the squad. I know the ability of the Socceroos – there are some great players in there and some not as good.
“They are struggling to find a natural left back at the moment. But obviously I need to kick on myself and the question is can I do that before the World Cup?
“Time’s a little bit against me but if I don’t get there for next summer, then give it a couple of years and I definitely will.”
A third-tier defender playing for Australia in the World Cup finals has happened before. Bristol City right back Luke Wilkshire got the nod from Hiddink in Germany in 2006 and started two of the group games.
Meredith said: “He was playing for a top-end team in League One at the time, so I’ve seen stranger things happen. It’s just getting the opportunity.
“But my main focus is doing well at Bradford. We’ve had a good start and surprised a lot of people but we’re a proper team.
“We don’t know when to give up and will work to the last minute. That’s what the fans love.”
Sunday came as unexpected bump in the road for the Bantams bandwagon – even more so given that Tranmere’s winner came in the second half. It was the first goal City had let in after the break for eight league games.
Meredith said: “We’re one of the fittest teams and that’s down to Nick Allamby, as well as the rigorous pre-season training.
“We always try and push on in the second half and press a bit harder, especially at home. Usually we’re kicking towards our fans (in the Kop) and they almost suck the ball into the net with their enthusiasm.
“I’m enjoying playing against better-quality players this season and I want to move up again and come up against even better.
“I think we can all achieve that as a team this year. We’re not getting ahead of ourselves but we’ve seen a lot of the league now and it is possible.
“We’ve got the enthusiasm, the drive and the mentality to do so. There are a lot of strong characters in the team.
“They are all ambitious – ranging from Nahki (Wells), who is one of the younger players, to Gary Jones. We all have that same attitude.”
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