Socceroos: Joe Gauci keen to start in absence of Mat Ryan

Former Adelaide United goalkeeper Joe Gauci is confident his lack of playing time at Aston Villa will not be an issue when he is named as a replacement for Mat Ryan for the Socceroos’ match against Bangladesh in Dhaka on Thursday night.

Due to a minor knee injury, Ryan, captain of the Socceroos and long-time first-choice goalkeeper, is missing from the national team’s 25-man squad for the FIFA World Cup qualifiers against the Bengal Tigers and Palestine, which Australia host in Perth on Tuesday.

The absence of the highly experienced Ryan, who has 93 international caps, has left a gap that not only Gauci, but also the other two goalkeepers in the squad – Lawrence Thomas of Western Sydney and Paul Izzo of Melbourne Victory – would like to fill.

However, the favourite for the starting eleven is 23-year-old Gauci, who has not played a game since joining Villa in February, where he is third choice behind Argentinian Emiliano Martinez and Swede Robin Olsen.

“I am ready to play when I am needed,” said Gauci.

“Every (Socceroos) camp is a new opportunity. That doesn’t change whether Maty is in the camp or not.

“Every time I enter camp, it’s an opportunity to show the progress I’m making and the development I’m making in my game. That’s not going to change now.

“I’m in training camp with two other experienced goalkeepers who are probably also keen to play some minutes for the Socceroos. I know they definitely want that, so nothing changes for me.

“This is an opportunity to come here and show my level and the progress I made at Villa thanks to the support and development there. And now I come here and of course the aim is to play.

“It would be the same if Maty was here. I don’t think anyone else would have wanted it. Everyone wants to play and then the coaches make the decision and we support everyone in that.”

Gauci said that after a difficult adjustment period at Villa, “everything has started to click” over the past two months, giving him confidence that he will play well should he be between the sticks on Thursday night.

“Instead of having a game at the end of the week to focus on like in Adelaide, every training session (at Villa) is like a game for me because it’s an opportunity to play at a high level and try to get better,” he said.

“There is probably no bigger jump in the world of football than from Australia to the (English) Premier League.

“I never really expected the jump to be this big. I guess I always aimed for the heights of the top leagues in Europe, but to make this jump, the level is definitely very different.
“There was an adjustment period and they made it very clear to me that I would need some time to settle in.

“A lot of factors played a role in this. It was definitely not easy to adapt to the level and find my routine, but as time went on, probably in the last six to eight weeks of the season, I felt a lot more confident and felt like I could really be myself and express myself on the field.

“With the adjustments they made to me as a goalkeeper, I started to feel the improvement and everything started to click.”

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