MIDFIELDER Massimo Luongo knows he faces a fight for game time at this summer’s World Cup but, even if he doesn’t get on the pitch for Australia, he’s determined to make the most of his big chance.
The 21-year-old was rewarded for an impressive season at the County Ground with a spot in Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou’s final 23 for Brazil last week, having only made his international debut in a friendly in March.
Speaking to the Swindon media for the first time since his selection, Luongo admitted his lack of tournament experience might make it hard for him to get on the field but believes simply being around the squad could prove vital as he and the Aussies bid to build a successful international future.
“After a long season at Swindon this is a good reward for me and I’m really grateful to the coaches and to the gaffer for giving me the opportunity,” he said.
“The day before the final squad was announced we had a game so it was a rest day, so everyone was off, and we basically walked up to breakfast and the coaches addressed everyone and said the names of the four players who wouldn’t be in the squad, I wasn’t one of them so I realised I was in the team.
“I think I had quite a good year, trained hard and did quite well. We had a game before selection against a local team and I think I did quite well so that helped me.
“There were a few injuries on the way so think things went my way a little, because that probably forced their hand a little and helped me get into the squad.
“To be honest, I’m maybe the second youngest player in the squad so maybe I’ve been brought in to get some experience and any game time will be to show what I can do for the future.
“I can help out the team in terms of giving some people a rest and I’m quite fresh so I need to get used to everything and how it all works.
“I’ve had three weeks with them now so I think I’ve made an impression and they know what I’m all about. Proving myself is important and it’s important to help the team to prepare even if I don’t end up playing.”
Luongo has played in a number of different roles in the middle of the Town midfield, both sitting back and supporting the front man, but the youngster believes he is likely to play more of a holding role under Postecoglou.
“We play with two holding and one attacking, so I think they would prefer me to be one of the two holding if I were to play,” he said.
Training in the Australia camp has been intense as they prepare for Friday night’s opener against Chile, but Luongo has enjoyed the sessions alongside the best players his country has to offer.
“Training is very intense so it’s a bit different because we’re not together for too long, unlike Swindon where it was about recovery and getting ready for the next game all the time,” he said.
“This is a mini pre-season and we have to get a lot done, because the quality has to be there as well.”