Luongo’s starting XI spot 'not safe'

Asian Cup MVP Massimo Luongo isn’t feeling secure about his Socceroos’ first XI spot with the likes of Tom Rogic and Mathew Leckie in fine form at club level.

Luongo missed Australia’s last match, a 2-1 win over Kyrgyzstan in 2018 World Cup qualifying, due to injury and is hopeful of being reinstated for Thursday’s encounter with Bangladesh in Perth.

Skipper Mile Jedinak and James Troisi are both out of the Bangladesh qualifier from the starting XI against Kyrgyzstan, opening up two spots in midfield, while right-back Ivan Franjic will be absent too.

There’s a long list of midfield options in the squad for coach Ange Postecoglou to choose from, with Matt McKay, Aaron Mooy, Jackson Irvine or Luke Brattan among the like-for-like candidates to replace Jedinak.

Luongo replacing Troisi in the starting XI is the obvious change, but Postecoglou may be swayed by Rogic’s form at Celtic, along with Tommy Oar’s impact off the bench against Kyrgzystan.

Nathan Burns’ starting XI spot isn’t secure either, but he has been in good form in Japan, leaving Postecoglou with a selection dilemma.

“There are loads of options,” Luongo said. “Looking at the squad, to be fair, the midfield is quite packed, the standard we have is quite good.”

Luongo has enjoyed a bright start to life with QPR in England’s Championship, boosting his case to return to the Socceroos’ XI.

“I don’t see why not,” Luongo said. “I’m fit, I haven’t had any problems since that qualifier and I’ve had a good start to the season and a great pre-season.”

Luongo’s confidence is somewhat tempered, though, by Postecoglou’s mantra that no one should ever feel comfortable in Socceroos camp.

“I don’t feel safe,” Luongo said. “Ange has put that point across that no one should be comfortable in the national team. I don’t feel comfortable.

“Every time I come here I’ve got to fight for my spot. Even at my club, I know my performances will affect if I come in and start. I don’t feel safe, but I’m confident in myself.”

An option for Postecoglou is teaming Rogic and Luongo up alongside each other in midfield, although the pair have never played together.

Despite that, Luongo was excited by the prospect of working with the talented and in-form Celtic man.

“When I saw the squad news come out I was quite excited,” Luongo said.

“I haven’t actually played with Tom Rogic but just from watching him and all the things I hear about him, it’s exciting.

“He turns up in those pockets and you give him the ball… it’s threatening, it’ll be good to watch.”