The battle for right-back in the Socceroos line-up has been interesting over the past 18 months.
At times it appeared Josh Risdon would be uncontested for the role – starting and performing well in all of Australia’s matches at the World Cup in Russia.
Fast-forward to January and Risdon is replaced by Sydney FC’s Rhyan Grant in the 46th minute of Australia’s opening Asian Cup match against Jordan.
Grant would hold the position for the remainder of the tournament, with both players returning to the A-League.
Risdon signed with Mark Rudan’s Western United ahead of the new season and has featured in all of the sides matches so far.
The 27-year-old has been a key cog as the right wing-back. He has created the most in-play chances this season (16), and according to Rudan has risen to the challenge set by the club to become a regular in the Socceroos line-up.
“He’s been very good and deserves to be back in the Socceroos set-up,” Rudan said.
“One the challenges we proposed to him was to get to back into the Socceroos set-up and through his performances and his mentality and his mindset and the way he applies himself to training every day…he thoroughly deserved the call up.
“The challenge now is to try and get that position against the guy we’re playing against this week.
“He has certainly lifted the level of his game and we believe there’s a lot more left in Josh as well.
“For us we believe there are other parts in his game we can improve as well but he’s going really well.”
Western United head into the match against Sydney FC following consecutive defeats to the Newcastle Jets and Central Coast Mariners.
While Rudan acknowledges his side were the external favourites to win their last two and now head into the match with Sydney FC as “underdogs”, the club has not discussed this internally.
“We don’t mention the fact that everyone’s tipping against us this week, we don’t talk about being underdogs or favourites,” he said.
“They’re a good side, we respect them, but like I said – unlike the last two weeks where we’ve been expected to beat the opposition, it’s completely turned out and for whatever reason things have changed quickly in seven days, so the expectation isn’t on us anymore to win, it’s on the opposition.”
Featured Image: Western United FC