Highly-touted Manchester City prospect Alexander Robertson has reminded Australia what they’re missing with a two-goal show for England.
The midfielder, whose absence from Australia’s squad for the U-17 FIFA Cup in Brazil was a matter of some conjecture, provided a clinical cutting edge during a 60-minute cameo as England beat Czech Republic 2-0 in a round-robin tournament in the UK earlier this week.
It was the 16-year-old’s fourth cap and third goal for his adopted country as he picks up fitness after several injury setbacks.
Also eligible for Scotland (his birthplace) and Peru (through his mother), the son of former Socceroo Mark Robertson is in danger of being lost to Australia for good as his England future unfolds.
Questions were raised when he wasn’t picked for Brazil, where the Joeys were crushed 4-0 by France in the round of 16.
Former FFA head of national performance Luke Casserly insisted the teenager was sounded out on several occasions over his availability, and had declined on each occasion.
However Robertson senior - who is on Manchester City’s payroll as part of their scouting network - claimed he’d heard nothing from the governing body leading into the tournament.
England have been the beneficiaries of the fractured communication lines between Australia - Robertson’s home between the age of five and 11 - and the gifted youngster.
Robertson won’t be lost to Australia until he plays for England in a senior tournament match, and there is still wriggle room to make a switch to the Olyroos or Socceroos should a call come.
But when asked where his loyalties were leaning, Robertson senior replied: “It looks like he’s going down that track with England at the moment.
“Or maybe he’s been forced down that path, who knows? He can only do what’s in front of him - and right now that’s England.
“They contact him, they come and see him and there isn’t much of that going on the other way.”
Robertson senior hinted that were Ex-Joey turned City Football Group executive James Johnson appointed new FFA CEO ahead of Brendan Schwab, it might be a circuit breaker in his son’s case and also galvanize youth pathways across the country.
“Australia needs to appoint somebody to pull things together for these kids and with James Johnson’s background as a former player whose gone to work with FIFA and the AFC, I think he’s perfectly placed to do that,” he said.
“In Alexander’s case (growing up in Sydney) there was no pathway and I had to keep hold of him myself and train him up through my own academy.
“But if somebody like James comes on board, having come through the grassroots himself, well that’s the sort of person we need at FFA.
“We’ve gone through the process of having non-football people in there. We’ve now got ex-players Mark Bresciano and Amy Duggan on the board, and we need a football person in tandem with that in the CEO role.
“James has the CV and the experience to take the game forward - and I might add that if he was steering the ship then things with Alexander could possibly be a little bit different.
“We were in the same Olympic Games squad, which he was promoted to, back in my playing days.
“For me, he ticks the boxes in building stability back into Australian football.
“If he’s talking do know he’s talking as a football man, not somebody who’s a pen pusher in the background pretending to know about football.”