Socceroos: Joe Gauci keen to start in absence of Mat Ryan

Former Adelaide United goalkeeper Joe Gauci is confident his lack of playing time at Aston Villa will not be a problem if he gets the nod as Mat Ryan’s replacement for the Socceroos’ clash with Bangladesh in Dhaka on Thursday night.

Socceroos captain and long-time first-team player Ryan is missing from the 25-man squad selected for the World Cup qualifiers against Bengal Tigers and Palestine, which Australia host in Perth on Tuesday week, due to a minor knee problem.

The absence of the hugely experienced Ryan, who has made 93 appearances, has left a void that not only the Gauci are eager to fill, but also the other two goalkeepers in the squad – Western Sydney’s Lawrence Thomas and Melbourne Victory’s Paul Izzo.

However, it is the 23-year-old Gauci – who has not played a game since his February move to Villa, where he is the third player behind Argentina’s Emiliano Martinez and Sweden’s Robin Olsen – who has the upper hand at the start.

“I’m ready to play if they call me,” Gauci said.

“Every (Socceroos) camp is another opportunity. That doesn’t change with Maty in or out of camp.

“Every time I step into camp it’s an opportunity to show the progression I’m making and the development I’m making in my game. That doesn’t change now.

“I’m in camp with two other experienced goalkeepers who are probably also looking to play minutes for the Socceroos. I know they definitely are, so it doesn’t change for me.

“It’s an opportunity to come and show my level and the improvements I’ve made at Villa with their support and development there and now I’m coming here and obviously I want to play.

“It’s the same if Maty was here. I don’t think anyone would want it any other way. “Everyone strives to play and then the coaches make the decision and we support everyone in that.”

Gauci said that after a difficult adjustment period at Villa over the past two months, “everything has started to click”, leaving him confident that he will play well if he starts between the posts on Thursday night.

Instead of having one game at the weekend to focus on like I did in Adelaide, every training session (at Villa) is like a game for me because it’s an opportunity to perform at a high level and try to get better. ,” he said.

“You probably can’t make a bigger jump in the football world than from Australia to the (English) Premier League.

“I never expected the jump to be so big. I guess I’ve always aimed for the heights of the top leagues in Europe, but to make that leap, the level is definitely quite different.
“There was an adjustment period and they made it clear to me that it would take some time to get used to it.

“There were a lot of factors that went into it. It definitely wasn’t easy to adjust to the level and find my routine, but as my times progressed, probably the last six to eight weeks of the season, I felt a lot more settled and I felt like I was really able to be myself and express myself on the field.

“With the adjustments they made to me as a goalkeeper, I started to feel that improvement and everything started to click.”

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