Football Federation Australia technical director Han Berger revealed the decision by Brent McGrath and Steve Lustica to train with their clubs instead of play for Australia at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup would harm their chances of a senior call-up.
Berger also said he and Young Socceroos coach Jan Versleijen were so desperate to pick McGrath they went to extraordinary lengths to persuade him to rethink his decision.
“They both let us know that they prefer to do the pre-season with the clubs instead of playing for the Young Socceroos in the World Cup,” Berger said.
“With Brent McGrath, I tried to convince him and Socceroos coach Holger Osieck tried.
“Finally I asked Lucas Neill to contact Brent to make him aware of the fact that we think it’s not really a good position for him to take.
“At the end of the day he decided to stick with his position and it is like it is.”
In the case of McGrath, who plays for Brondby in Denmark and was called up to the Socceroos for the friendly match against Germany in March, Berger suggested club pressure may have been a factor in his decision to snub national duty.
“I’m just saying that it’s very difficult for a young player, when you’re pressured by your club, to make a different decision to the one the club wants,” Berger said.
“I tried to call Brondby, by the way, but the technical director didn’t respond either to my voicemail or my text message.
“But it is a problem and it also makes clear that it’s not always easy, for us or the players, to make everybody available.”
McGrath’s reluctance to upset his club resulted in his non-selection for the Socceroos friendly matches against New Zealand and Serbia in June and would continue to harm his Socceroos prospects.
“I think Holger gave a clear indication of how this would affect Brent’s Socceroos career by not selecting him for the Serbia and New Zealand game, partly to do with this issue,” Berger said.
“I’m not selecting the Socceroos, Holger is. But the fact Brent wasn’t selected for the two friendly games after the Germany games had to do with this.”
Young Socceroos Squad: Matthew ACTON (Brisbane Roar), Mustafa AMINI (Central Coast Mariners), Terry ANTONIS (Sydney FC), Jake BARKER-DAISH (Gold Coast United), Mark BIRIGHITTI (Adelaide United), Kerem BULUT (Mlada Boleslav, Czech Republic), Kofi DANNING (Brisbane Roar), Matthew FLETCHER (Uncontracted), Petar FRANJIC (Melbourne Victory), Sam GALLAGHER (Central Coast Mariners), Rhyan GRANT (Sydney FC), Brendan HAMILL (Melbourne Heart), Bernie IBINI-ISEI (Central Coast Mariners), Ben KANTAROVSKI (Newcastle Jets), Mathew LECKIE (Borussia Monchengladbach, Germany), Dylan MCGOWAN (Gold Coast United), Tommy OAR (FC Utrecht, Netherlands), Dimitrios PETRATOS (Sydney FC), Trent SAINSBURY (Central Coast Mariners), Lawrence THOMAS (Uncontracted), Marc WARREN (Sheffield United, United Kingdom)
FIFA U-20 World Cup
SBS will broadcast the best youth football on the planet with the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup LIVE from Turkey - including all games involving the Young Socceroos.