Australian defender James Meredith has signed a new one-year deal with League One side Bradford City but faces a tough fight to tie down the left back spot.
Meredith, 26, spent the off-season considering a possible Championship move while the Bantams boosted their defensive stocks by acquiring Alan Sheehan.
The former Notts County skipper was a key figure in that club's successful bid to escape relegation last season, chipping in with seven goals.
He stands as a formidable obstacle between Meredith and regular football.
But Bradford's joint-chairman, Mark Lawn, believes the stiff competition will bring out the best in the Albury-born defender who is gunning for a Socceroos cap.
Lawn told the Bradford Telegraph and Argus: "I've always thought we had the best back four in the league. Well, now I think we've got the best five with James there.
"I think he's got a bit to prove. That's why we've tailored it as we have.
"We looked elsewhere when he said he wanted to look around. But he wants to come back to Bradford City – and that's not an option that was forced on him.
"James still wants to get into the Australian national side and I think he believes the profile of Bradford City will be high enough to hopefully push him forward.
"If we can get the best out of him, he'll get a first cap for Australia."
It’s been a tough road for Meredith of late. The Aussie, who joined Bradford in 2012, played every game last season until a broken foot at the start of the year sidelined him for four months.
Off-contract at the end of the 2013/14 campaign, he turned down the first offer to stay with the Bantams and the club looked elsewhere.
"James has got to do what's best for him" Lawn said.
"He looked around for something else and we obviously started doing the same.
"We brought in Alan Sheehan, who I think is an exceptional left back. He's a very versatile player as well because he played well at centre half for Notts County last season and even in midfield.
"He got the same plaudits there as Stephen Darby did for us and won all the awards from the player of the year. So he was a good capture for us.
"Now it's looking really good to have James back as well and pushing for that position.
"All the fans know what sort of exciting players they are. James likes to attack and Sheehan certainly does.
"Both of them have that ability to overlap. If we can get someone on that left side who's a bit fast as well, that will be a very good attacking option for us."
Meredith was shaping as a possible World Cup bolter for the Socceroos until his foot injury cruelled his chances.
The injury meant he was unable to play in a game against Preston North End in January attended by national team boss Ange Postecoglou.
But the Green and Gold dream still shines brightly and in May Meredith told FourFourTwo he was already looking ahead.
“There’s the Asian Cup next year, we’ll see how things go" he said.
"That’d be fantastic (to play in front of family and friends). You couldn't really ask for more than that.”comments