'Outstanding' Milligan bolsters Socceroos' defensive options

Ange Postecoglou says Mark Milligan’s selection at centre back for the Socceroos was not a one-off after Milligan starred against England.

Normally a central midfielder, Milligan partnered Bailey Wright in the heart of the Australian defence.

The versatile utility appeared comfortable in a position that he hasn’t started in since 2011.

With the Socceroos stacked with midfield options, Milligan could be used in central defence again in the future.

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“It’s not a one off, it’s one of the things we wanted to try and Millsy’s such a good passer of the ball he gives us that extra option playing out from the back,’’ Postecoglou told media after the game.

“He’s a good defender and a fantastic competitor, and in his first game at centre-half for over two or three years I thought him and Bailey Wright were outstanding.”

Pics: England v Australia match action

UAE-based Milligan said it “wasn’t too bad” playing at centre half.

“I’ve filled in every now and then but it’s been about five years since I’ve started a game at centre back – probably when I was on loan at Victory,” he said.

“It wasn’t too bad. Obviously with the ball I’m more comfortable, it’s just more the positioning side of things, my starting points and things like that.

“But we have some very good staff who had some videos for me. So I don’t think it was too bad and Bailey’s (Wright) is excellent to play next to.

“Plenty of chatter from him and Maty behind me which made life easier.”

Milligan has often been the Socceroos’ ‘Mr Fix It’ in the past few years, playing in midfield, defence and at right back in the Asian Cup final. The former Melbourne Victory skipper admits the Australia defence had its hands full with the speed of Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford.

“I don’t think you’ll find a couple of quicker players,” he said.

“We set up to sort of nullify those threats hopefully before they happen.  So myself and Bails (Wright) we were nice and tight on Rashford and Sterling, which I think in the first half we didn’t give them much joy.

“We wanted to control the match, play through the lines and be nice and positive and for the most part we did that."