Melbourne Victory coach Ange Postecoglou has backed his defender Mark Milligan as a key player in keeping afloat the Socceroos' stuttering World Cup qualifying campaign.
Milligan will line up for Victory on the opening night of the new A-League season against Melbourne Heart at Etihad Stadium on Friday, before going into camp for the Socceroos' vital qualifier against Iraq in Qatar on Wednesday October 17.
Despite being part of two World Cup finals squads, Milligan has only played 15 times for his country.
Perhaps a victim of his versatility, invariably he has been seen as a national team back-up rather than starter under Guus Hiddink, Pim Verbeek and Holger Osieck.
Postecoglou intends to use Milligan as a central defender this season, and suggests the 27-year-old can potentially be a gamebreaker for Australia if given the chance.
"Since he's been with us, he's been outstanding. I've got a feeling he's going to play a massive role in the World Cup campaign," Postecoglou said.
"He's in great form.
"Physically he's in good condition, and really feels good about himself."
Milligan missed the Socceroos' dire loss to Jordan last month through suspension after his unlucky send-off in the previous World Cup qualifier against Japan in Brisbane.
The Jordan defeat has put heat on senior Socceroos and Osieck.
But Milligan said the situation was not yet desperate for the Socceroos despite being well behind runaway group leaders Japan.
"They've only had a couple of draws and a loss, and it's still a very good squad," Milligan said of the Socceroos.
"Holger still knows what he's doing. He had a very successful Asian Cup, and sometimes people forget the past very quickly.
"We're still in a fortunate position, we're only one win away from turning it around, and then all this will be forgotten."
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