Swindon Town manager Mark Cooper has told fans to “lay off” Massimo Luongo after suggestions from fans the Socceroo star has lost focus with thoughts on a move to a big club.
After a stunning season for both club and country, Luongo is likely to leave the club at the end of the campaign with a number of leading clubs – including some in the EPL – keen on the 22-year-old.
But some Swindon fans are said to be unhappy with all the speculation, questioning Luongo’s commitment to getting the club promotion from League One.
Speaking with Total Sport, Cooper launched a staunch defence of his prized asset.
“When people hear that a player has said whatever he’s said, they sometimes have misconceptions” the Swindon boss said. “Straight away, (the fans think) he’s not going to be that bothered.
“Everyone thinks there’s a move guaranteed – there isn’t. He knows that he’s got to be playing really, really well if he’s going to get a move to the Premiership.
“At the minute there’s nothing guaranteed so he’s desperate to play and desperate to get us over the line. I think the fans need to lay off him a little bit.
"He’s been a really good player for the club while he’s been here and he’ll continue to give everything he’s got while he’s here.”
Luongo has enjoyed a dream 12 months, starting with going to last year’s World Cup in Brazil and including a breakout AFC Asian Cup, where he was player of the tournament in the Socceroos’ historic win.
For Swindon he’s scored six goals and had five assists with the club in fourth and heading into the play-offs for promotion to the Championship.
Cooper added: “(Luongo’s) flown all over the world this year to enhance his reputation, which is personal. He’s been sprung into the limelight as a global star with Australia so it’s been difficult for him.
“He’s played a lot of games. He’s been playing football for nearly a year now because he went to the World Cup, didn’t have a break and went to the Asian Cup. We have to look at how many games he’s played in a period of time.
“He is going to be tired and we’ve got to try to look after him if we are going to be in the play-offs.”