Football 1 year ago

Wright brings physical edge to Socceroos

  • Wright brings physical edge to Socceroos

    SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - MAY 27: Bailey Wright of Australia shakes hands with Ross Barkley of England at the final whistle during the International Friendly match between England and Australia at Stadium of Light on May 27, 2016 in Sunderland, England. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Standing a good 10 centimetres shorter than teammate Matthew Spiranovic, Bailey Wright knows he doesn't offer the Socceroos an aerial advantage in central defence.

But years of fighting the physical battle in England's lower tiers have given the Preston North End stopper a hard-nosed edge and adaptable touch that's helping him carve out a regular spot in the national team.

Until a couple of years ago Wright was a relative unknown in Australia, quietly plying his trade with Preston in League One.

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Since then, the Melbourne-born 23-year-old has been a non-playing member of Australia's World Cup squad in Brazil, before starting in all but one of eight qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup.

His assured 90-minute performance in Saturday's 2-1 loss to England in Sunderland elicited praise from former England manager Glenn Hoddle, while Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou said Wright did not look out of place.

Wright is in line for his 12th cap in Saturday's friendly with Greece at Sydney's ANZ Stadium.

He points to his physicality and versatility as weapons learned through his five years at Preston North End before their 2015 promotion.

"It's definitely helped carve who I am as a player," Wright said.

"You play against some good, big strikers that aerially are very good, so you've got to make the best of what strengths you have.

"My physical side of the game was something I've always tried to adapt and make my strength because I didn't have the natural height.

"I like to think I can mix it up as well, but definitely playing in England it's something you're prepared for."

Wright said Saturday's loss to England was frustrating, but felt the promising display against a big opponent had injected confidence for the two-match friendly series with Greece.

"We played our game and we showed that it doesn't matter who we play that we're capable of doing that," he said.

"As a team we're growing.

"In the ideal world we would have won that game with that performance, but sometimes you can't beat yourself up too much."

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