Smith has long-term national plans

Brisbane Roar captain Matt Smith wants to stay in Holger Osieck’s plans following his Australia call-up.

Brisbane Roar captain Matt Smith wants to stay in Holger Osieck’s plans following his Australia call-up.

The England-born defender was one of nine new faces named in the Socceroos’ provisional 25-man squad consisting predominantly of Hyundai A-League players for the EAFF East Asian Cup qualifying tournament, which is scheduled to run from December 1-9 in Hong Kong.

Australia’s defensive frailties have been evident throughout the final phase of 2014 AFC World Cup qualifying and, with Osieck yet to settle on a suitable centre back pairing, Smith is aware there is a chance to make a case for a spot in the heart of defence.

“I think it’s an opportunity for all central defenders,” said Smith, who recently received his international clearance.

“I’m very pleased to be in the frame at the moment, particularly after I just got the nod to be selected.

“I think there is a lot of good central defenders around and I’m certainly going to do my best to try and give myself the best opportunity to not only be picked for Hong Kong but in the future as well.”

Joining Smith in camp will be fellow newcomers Terry Antonis, Adam Taggart, Ivan Franjic, Aaron Mooy, Ben Halloran, Rostyn Griffiths, Osama Malik and Bosnia-born defender Dino Djulbic.

The Qantas Socceroos will be put through their paces during this week’s training camp before the squad is cut to 20 ahead of the December qualifiers, during which they will meet hosts Hong Kong, Guam, Chinese Taipei and North Korea for a place in July’s East Asian Cup finals.

And Smith has urged his team-mates to take full advantage of their opportunity.

“It’s a great opportunity for all of us,” the 30-year-old said.

“For the guys from Asia and the guys from the A-League it’s an opportunity to impress in front of the head coach.”

With the tournament being played outside official FIFA match dates, the squad is largely a mix of Australian and Asian-based players.

But Smith has no doubts the squad will be prepared ahead of their opening match, with many players fronting up against each other on a weekly basis in the A-League.

“I’m sure if you ask any player in the squad this week to have the opportunity to be able to be involved in the national team they would take that,” he said.

“Because a lot of us are playing against each other week in week out, we generally know how most players will fit.

“I think training this week will enable us to gel.

“I’m not too sure if I’m going to Hong Kong yet, I hope I do, but I think we will certainly be prepared going into the tournament.”