The time is Wright, says Bailey

Socceroos new-boy Bailey Wright is hoping to make his starting debut when Australia take on European heavyweights Belgium in the early hours of Friday morning (AEST).

The call-up to Ange Postecoglou’s 20-man squad is another step forward for the Preston North End centre-back after being selected for the World Cup in Brazil as a defensive back-up.

Now the 22-year-old is setting his sights on lining up against the Red Devils.

“I’m delighted to be called up,” Wright said.

“It’s always nice being part of the national team and now I want to go one step further and get out on that pitch

“To be able to make my debut would be a dream come true, any kid growing up who wants to make their way in any sport always dream about getting the chance to represent their country, so to be given the chance feels pretty special.”

The former Dandenong Thunder junior didn’t see game time in Brazil but still looks back on the World Cup as a huge learning experience.

 “The experience was probably one of the best of my life, one of those things that pretty hard to describe,” Wright said.

“I definitely learnt a lot from being away with the squad and all the coaching staff.

“The whole experience of the World Cup is something that will hopefully help me grow as a player and help push me on in the right direction.”

The Socceroos performances at the World Cup had fans on the edge of their seats, particularly the first two games against Chile and the Netherlands.

Suddenly it ... hit home how big an occasion this really was.

Wright also had a look back at some of the more memorable moments, adding: “The obvious ones were Tim (Cahill’s) goal and the performance we put in against the Netherlands.

“A lot of people wrote us off and thought we would struggle, when really we proved a lot of people wrong and played some good football and just fell a bit short in the end. We were unlucky.

“A key moment I would say was when the first game came about against Chile, it all suddenly felt very real and hit home how big an occasion this really was.”

While the Socceroos were disappointed with the results, the feeling within the squad, as the tournament progressed, was upbeat.

“The feeling was always positive and to stick to our game plan and things would work for us”, Wright said.

“There was obvious disappointment when we lost our games, but plenty of positives to take on and lots to learn from too.

“We showed we just fell short against Chile and Netherlands. Against Spain we perhaps found it a bit harder, after all they didn't have great World Cup by their standards but are still one of the best teams in the world.”

Even as a back-up defender Wright still had a part to play in Brazil - ensuring he was ready to take the pitch in any event.

We have great bunch of boys who are all very professional and down to earth.

“Everyone knew their role and that was always to be prepared physically and mentally,” he added.

“Because you never know when your chance may come and when you’re needed to do a job for your country.

“It's important that when you don't play, you train well and put pressure on those playing to keep performing.”

The Aussies had a good bond during the World Cup and the League One defender says the attitude of the Socceroos helped him settle into the squad.

“We have great bunch of boys who are all very professional and down to earth and always make it easy to settle in and get to know everyone,” he said.

“You get to know everyone so well when you’re away, especially when you’re away for about six weeks and always together.”

Last season was Wright’s most productive year in his club career. The defender played 50 games and marked his 100th appearance for Preston as captain.

Despite the Lilywhites getting knocked out in the playoffs, the Aussie was happy with his progression.

“Last season was a good one for me, it would have been nice to get promotion but unfortunately in the end we just fell short,” he said.

“There are still a lot of positives in the season and I definitely feel I have progressed as a player and hope to continue on with another good season.”

The youngster from Melbourne has set himself a number of goals for the season ahead.

Getting promotion to the Championship with Preston North End - a club he has been at since 2010 – is one.

And now that Wright has the opportunity to make his full debut for the Socceroos, claiming a spot in the Asian Cup squad is another.

Wright added: “My goals are to continue to play regular games in a winning team, get promoted and to play and be part of the national team as much as possible.

“It’s a big few months for Aussie football especially with the Asian Cup being in Australia so it would be exciting to be part of it.”

Con Stamocostas writes the blog: A Football Story