Australia defender Jade North has rounded on the snipers who question his selection in Socceroos squads, insisting he has proved his worth at international level.
North was singled out by coach Holger Osieck as one of the players who was missed during the 3-1 loss to Scotland earlier this month – and he has been restored to Osieck's squad for the September 12 World Cup qualifier against Jordan in Amman and the warm-up against Lebanon five days earlier.
Despite making 34 appearances for his country, including starts in the recent duels against Denmark, Oman and Japan, the defender – who plays centre-back for J-League struggler Consadole Sapporo but right-back for Australia – has yet to win over a shrill band of cynics.
Fit again from the calf injury that rubbed him out of calculations for the Scotland match, North is a likely starter against Lebanon and Jordan at right-back in the absence of the injured Rhys Williams, after shading him for selection against the Danes, Oman and Japan.
The underrated 30-year-old insists the critics are more “laughable” than laudable.
“There are always people out there having a go at you and everybody is entitled to their opinion,” he said.
“I am wise enough now, and have been overseas long enough to know what it takes to be a professional and to understand that you get critics here, there and everywhere.
“As long as you do the job when you get the chance then you don’t worry too much about what they say.
“I could have a blinder and people will criticise me – that’s just the way it is.
“It’s quite laughable really when people take time out to bag you for whatever reason. Maybe they have too much time on their hands.
“I was pretty happy with the way I played in my last three games for Australia. The boss kept faith with me and I don’t think I let him down.”
Despite playing at centre-back for relegation-haunted Consadole Sapporo, North has been utilised at right-back for Australia in his last three appearances.
“I am pretty happy and comfortable there and I know I can do a job there if required,” he said.
“There are no dramas whatsoever, even though in Japan I play as a centre-back.”
North makes no bones about the expectations against Jordan as Australia seeks to pick up its first win in the final phase of World Cup qualifying for Brazil 2014 after draws against Oman and Japan.
“If we want to qualify we really need to win this type of game,” he said. “But first up we need to have a good performance against Lebanon to take some momentum into the match.
“I think we’ll be switched on for both games and you will see something different to the Scotland game.”
North’s contract with Consadole Sapporo expires in November, with the club languishing 10 points adrift at the foot of the J-League ladder and all but certain to go down.
Where his future lies beyond this season remains uncertain, with North saying: “I have a deal until the end of the season and will worry about it after that.
“A lot of the Japanese clubs don’t tend to make decisions until later in the year on signings anyway. I will just keep going and my future will sort itself out when the time comes.
“We’d love to stay up but it’s looking tough right now – we need to win some games urgently.”
Like it has for the entire 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification campaign, Australia had to play the most nervous of waiting games.