Wright’s fight for top flight as Premier League Aussies face extinction

Source: Getty Images

Socceroo Bailey Wright’s hopes of joining an endangered species of Australians in the Premier League with Bristol City next season are going down to the wire, with a must-win meeting against Frank Lampard’s fellow promotion hunters Derby County this weekend.

As Aaron Mooy’s relegated Huddersfield drop back to the Championship and Mat Ryan’s Brighton battle to avoid joining them, Socceroos defender Wright is looking to go the other way.

Aston Villa’s ex-Socceroos skipper Mike Jedinak is part of a Villains squad already locked in for the play-offs but the 34-year-old isn’t likely to be there next year.

And there are huge hurdles still to overcome if the dreams of the Robins skipper, 26, are to be realised.

Firstly, Lee Johnson’s men must ideally take three points off the Rams as the joust for the last remaining play-off spot in the Championship hots up.

The West Country club are a point adrift of sixth-placed Derby with three games left, the final two of which are away at survival-chasing Millwall and mid-table Hull.

Middlesbrough, who are a point clear of City having played a game more, are also in the mix.

Having fought his way back to fitness after an injury-hit season, Wright has enjoyed previous Wembley play-off success with former club Preston, and wants to go back there again.

If sixth spot can be sealed, a possible play-off against Leeds United beckons over two legs.

City have developed a case of the staggers with two losses from their last three, with Wright telling The World Game: “The Derby game is massive and all is still to play for.

“This is what it’s about and these are the games you want to be involved in if you want to be successful.

“Ashton Gate will be packed and despite losing to Sheffield Wednesday (2-0) in our last match, the confidence and belief is as strong as ever.

“Derby are there for a reason and Frank Lampard has shown already he wasn’t just a great player - he’s also a good manager.

“There’s been so many twists and turns this season and it (the top six chase) may go down to the last game.”

In 2015 Wright was part of the Preston side which hammered Swindon Town 4-0 to win the League One play-off final, and isn’t fazed by big occasions.

“Obviously this is the next level but throughout our squad we’ve got players with Wembley experience and play-off experience.

“But we can’t look that far ahead just yet - we need to perform against Derby.

“We know what it takes to win games and that’s what we need to do now in these coming matches. We’re in a good position to kick on now.”

Having signed for the Robins in 2016, Wright always saw the potential for a long-awaited return to the top flight they last tasted 39 years ago.

“From the day I joined the club I knew what the owner and manager wanted and I believed we could get to where we are now.

“Now we want to go that one step further.

“The odds of going up are what people from the outside give you, and not what’s created from within.

“We’ve created our own odds, that’s the beauty of football.

“Odds come from a computer not from a feeling of belief and feeling from within a camp.”