Mat Ryan is ready to turn a string of eye-catching performances for Club Brugge into a Socceroos call up for next month’s glamour match against Brazil.
The former Central Coast Mariners goalkeeper has received accolades not just from his club, but from throughout the Belgium Pro League with the quality of his displays in six successive starts.
And Club Brugge sporting director, former Iceland midfielder Arnar Gretarsson, believes he is already equipped to make the step up to international level with Australia.
With incumbent Mark Schwarzer playing second fiddle to Petr Cech at Chelsea, and Mitch Langerak, Adam Federici and Brad Jones doing likewise at Borussia Dortmund, Reading and Liverpool, Ryan is set to jump the queue as he chases a spot in next year’s FIFA 2014 World Cup squad.
“It would be incredible to be get a call up for the game against Brazil, something you dream about,” said Ryan, who is expected to be named by coach Holger Osieck next Wednesday in his party for the 8 September (AEST) duel with the Confederations Cup champion and five-times World Cup winner in Brasilia.
With a clash against France in Paris the following month also on the agenda, there are incentives aplenty for Ryan to keep impressing.
“Brazil has some of best players in the world at the best clubs in the world and if I was to get a chance to face them, it would be privilege to test myself at that level,” he added.
“Brazil will be a good indicator of where we are at and I know the team will go out against them and leave nothing in the tank. A good performance will gain us a lot of respect, that’s for sure. We’ll hope for a little luck and to give them a run for their money.
“I have been involved in camps before of course and I would love another taste of that. We have a lot of quality in the goalkeeping ranks with the likes of Mark Schwarzer who is a legend and of course keepers like Mitch on the rise.
“The fact I’ve been playing every week is probably in my favour a bit and I am just trying to make the best of the opportunity which has come my way at club level – if that helps me get noticed with the national team that’s great.
“My chance at Club Brugge came a bit earlier than I anticipated and it’s important I keep working hard and putting the performances together.”
Ryan’s only two caps to date came in last December’s East Asian Cup against North Korea and Taiwan and facing Neymar, Hulk, Fred, Paulinho and Co would be a step into another stratosphere.
But Gretarsson insists he would take it in his stride.
“We are delighted by the way Mat has been progressing and I would say he is definitely ready for the next level of international football,” he said.
“Obviously we wouldn’t want to lose him for long journeys around the world but we have international players from other countries in our squad and you accept that and want to see them excel. I know Mat would love to represent his country.”
A pre-season injury to last year’s No 1, Vladan Kujovic, opened the door for Ryan, who hasn’t looked back, starting ahead of the fit again Serb in the 2-0 opening day victory over Sporting Charleroi and keeping him in the shadows since.
“I feel I have adapted well to the style of play here. I think being good with the ball at my feet with my distribution has also helped also because we look to start attacks quickly, but of course you get judged on the saves you make and the clean sheets,” he added.
“Playing out from the back is a big aspect in the modern game and I like to think that’s one of my strengths having learned a few tricks of the trade under Graham Arnold at the Mariners.
“I am still only 21 but I feel like I have been around a while having three years under my belt at the A-League and I like to think I am quite mature for my age, while of course I am still learning all the time.
“With all due respect to the A-League the players are better here and you always have to be switched on because you have to expect the unexpected with some of the skilful players you face.”
Club Brugge is off to a flier this season with three league wins and a draw, with the only blemish its UEFA Europe League exit against Slask Wrocław, with Ryan set to start again against Gent on Sunday night (AEST).
Gretarsson added: “Mat has been looking better with every game and has been one of our most impressive players so far this season.
“He’s also integrated well with the squad and is a great character and a fantastic guy. He is always positive and very professional.
“He is explosive in his game and has made some great saves and is amazing on the ball with both feet … he’s like our eleventh on-field player at times and that’s very important in the modern game.”
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