Socceroos defender Harry Souttar says there’s a great level of excitement ahead of the clash with the Three Lions at Wembley this Friday, but admits the types of opponents the team has faced in recent months has enabled a level-headed mentality.
Australia had one of it’s best showings ever at last year’s Qatar FIFA World Cup, with wins over Denmark and Tunisia helping them secure entry into the Round of 16, where they would face eventual champions Argentina in a 2-1 defeat.
Harry Souttar, who started all four games at centre-back for the green and gold impressed on an individual level, helping him secure a move to then-Premier League side Leicester City in an Australian record 15M Pound (26M AUD) transfer.
Unlike a majority of the players in the Socceroos camp, Souttar won’t have to travel very far to get to the Wembley Stadium for the nation’s first match ever at one of the UK’s most iconic arenas.
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Speaking to media ahead of the massive test for the Aussies, Souttar says he feels a lot fresher this time around compared to the last time he made the Australian squad:
“I feel a fresher than I did in the last camp, so now it’s the other boys’ turn to have the jet lag,” he said.
Born in Scotland, Souttar is well versed with the level of importance that the Wembley Stadium holds, with some of Footballs biggest matches in history taking place at the ground. However, Australia’s upcoming match will be the first time the central defender will play in a match at the arena, and is an occasion he is looking forward to:
“It’s an iconic venue, I’ve only ever been there before on a tour with my granny. But obviously watching all the FA Cup finals and play-off games live on TV, it’s going to be a real special night for all of us,” the defender said.
Over the course of the past twelve months, the Australian side has come up against some of footballs best international sides, including 2018 World Champions France in the group stages of the World Cup in Qatar, as well as Argentina in the knockout stages, and again in a two-nil defeat in a friendly at Beijing’s Workers Stadium in June.
Despite succumbing to defeat in all three of these matches, Souttar believes the experiences alone will stand them in good stead when they come up against another of the world best sides in England later this week:
“It’s another game of football, as good as England are, and obviously the iconic venue it (Wembley) is, ultimately it’s just another game of football,” Souttar said.
“With the experiences we’ve had, with the World Cup, playing massive teams all over the world, and some of the venues we’ve been at, it’s one that we go into with excitement knowing we can play on the biggest stage against the best players.
“It’s one that we’ve got full belief in ourselves, what we can do as a group and hopefully it can be a good night for us.
“Just playing the really top teams at top stadiums and having that big crowd watching, we’ve done it at the World Cup, but coming off of the World Cup it was nice to play the high calibre teams.
“Each game that goes by is just another one the lads can tick off and say we’ve played there, we’ve played a great team, we’ve done really well and had positives from it, but there’s still things we can do better that we can learn from”.
Although the England squad are filled to the brim with world class players, including Souttar’s former Leicester City teammate James Maddison, there is full belief within the Australian squad that they have the ability that goes toe-to-toe with the English:
“For us it’s obviously great to be playing a team of that calibre, but we believe fully in what we can do as a team and as individuals as well,” the 24-year-old stated.
With the next FIFA World Cup being just under four years away, experiences like battling England at the Wembley Stadium will help the next batch of Socceroos get acclimatised with international football, according to Souttar:
“We all look forward to the next World Cup, and we know that three-and a half to four years is a long time so there’s going to be new faces at that World Cup, so I think its really important to bring them in, to be around the squad and be around the experienced players. To learn the culture of the team is just massively important, which is so strong,” he stated.
“On the pitch as well, just to see how all the lads train and what they do, the preparation that goes on, it’s certainly one for me that I’ve learned a lot from Matty Ryan and how he looks after his body.
“Just to be around the lads in different situations and scenarios, it’s going to be a great experience for them”.
Australia goes head-to-head with Gareth Southgate’s England at Wembley Stadium, with kick-off at 5:15AM Australian Central Daylight Time.
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