• Comeback ... Adam Sarota [right] celebrates with his Utrecht team-mates Juan Sebastian Agudelo and Jens Toornstra (Getty)
Just over a year after a shattering knee injury, midfielder Adam Sarota is set to be named in coach Ange Postecoglou's Australia squad for next month’s World Cup warm-up against Ecuador in London.
By
SBS: Dave Lewis

18 Feb 2014 - 8:23 PM  UPDATED 19 Feb 2014 - 12:48 AM

Felled by an ACL rupture as he prepared to join the national squad for a clash against Romania in Spain last February, Sarota’s fightback to fitness was fuelled by his desire to feature for his country in Brazil in June.

And after putting together a run of seven games for his Eredivisie club Utrecht since his return to action in early December, the combative and classy Sarota – who was mentored by Postecoglou at Brisbane Roar – is ready to make a late charge into Australia’s squad for the global showpiece.

Sarota, 25, knows he has job on his hands to push the likes of Mark Milligan, Mile Jedinak, James Holland, Mark Bresciano and Oliver Bozanic while Carl Valeri and Swindon Town's Massimo Luongo could also be in the mix.

But the first step would be a recall for the game against fellow World Cup qualifier Ecuador at Milwall’s Den home ground on 6 March (AEDT).

'During my rehab I always had the World Cup as a strong motivation and now that I am back playing that feeling is stronger than ever," said Sarota who has been deployed as a right sided midfielder for Utrecht since his return, with Socceroos team-mate Tommy Oar on the left.

'I’ve been steadily improving with each game and the club showed a lot of belief in me by pretty much putting me straight back in the first team when I was fit."

Capped three times by Australia, Sarota added: 'I know it will be tough to force my back into the squad because we have a lot of good midfield players.

'Ange was great for me at the Roar and it was down to him that I got a start in the first team there. Then he was also really good over my eventual move to Holland.

'But he will judge every player on their merits and there won't be favours for anybody.

'I won't expect to be picked just because I have a history with Ange and I am playing in Europe. This is not Sunday football, it’s the Socceroos.

'With Ange, you know that if you are doing well you are always a chance of selection. That’s his criteria."

Postecoglou saw Sarota firsthand as he played 90 minutes in a 1-1 draw with Eredivisie high-flier Ajax earlier this month – not that the Queenslander knew about it at the time.

'I heard later he was there, which was good," he added. 'I think I did okay in that game and the result was pleasing for us because it’s been an up and down season.

'Of course I would love to be picked against Ecuador. I am feeling optimistic because I am playing regularly in one of the better leagues in Europe.

'It would be a huge stepping stone for me in pushing my claims for the World Cup. After being out for so long, to get picked for that would be unbelievable.

'It means so much to any Australian player and that’s why you have to feel for Rhys Williams and Robbie Kruse who look like missing out with injuries.

'I went to school in Brisbane with Robbie (his ex Roar teammate). We have known each other since we were 11 years old.

'When I got my injury, he was one of the first people on the phone to console me and offer support – and I’ve been trying to do the same for him since he suffered his knee injury.

'I’ve been offering him a few tips and some advice, since I have been through it myself and I know he will return stronger mentally and physically.

'He’s staying optimistic: you can’t let any thoughts of depression get the better of you because the injury has happened – it’s how you deal with it that matters.

'Before I was injured I took things for granted and at times even looked upon football like an office job. Being out for so long made me fall in love with the game all over again."