James Meredith, the Socceroos and the step-up to international football

Posted on October 1, 2015

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NB: Image courtesy of Thomas Gadd (www.thomasgadd.co.uk)

Australia manager, Ange Postecoglou recently announced his 23-man squad for the Socceroo’s upcoming World Cup qualifier against Jordan in October.  There were a number of welcomed returns including the Asia Cup-winning trio of James Troisi, Tomi Juric and Trent Sainsbury but with one ‘surprise’ inclusion in the form of Bradford City’s, 27-year-old defender James Meredith.

Meredith has been an ever-present player in the Bantams starting XI since he signed from York City in 2012.  He was a star of the side that won promotion from League Two via the play-offs in 2013 and the run to the League Cup final that same season, not to mention part of last season’s FA Cup heroics against Chelsea and Sunderland.

Primarily a left-back, Meredith epitomises the modern day full-back with his athleticism, raw pace and an attacking mentality which makes him a highly valuable asset.  His overlapping runs stretch play to create space and his delivery from wide areas is unrivalled; a potent weapon when you have a player with the aerial prowess of James Hanson up front.

This is not to ignore his defensive abilities.  Meredith is a quick and powerful defender which makes him a difficult opponent to beat in a one-on-one situation.  He is particularly good at blocking crosses and making tackles to stop the opposition creating any goal-scoring opportunities from wide areas.

Meredith has been in good form at City this season, working tirelessly up and down the left hand side of the pitch and his goal against Sheffield United at Valley Parade may have sealed Postecoglou’s decision to pick the 27-year-old in his most recent squad.

Bradford manager, Phil Parkinson has been full of praise for Meredith after his recent call-up.

Parkinson spoke to Simon Parker of the Telegraph & Argus saying: “I’m absolutely delighted for James and he really deserves it.  He is an excellent player for us, not just in what he does on the pitch but the way he trains so hard every day.

He continued: “I’ve been a bit surprised that he hasn’t been looked at it in the past but now he’s got his chance in a high-profile game, a World Cup qualifier, and I’m so pleased for him.”

After the squad was announced on 23rd September, Jason Dasey, Senior Editor at ESPN spoke about Meredith’s inclusion.  Dasey spoke specifically about the problems the Socceroos had faced on the left-hand side which hadn’t really been solved since the retirement of Scott Chipperfield. Meredith can provide extra depth and options in this area and in the future, perhaps fill this void.

Postecoglou still harbours concerns over the depth at full-back within his squad and said that Meredith had been on his radar for a while.  “We have been keeping an eye on James for the past 18 months and this season he started well, so we’ll bring him in to see how he fits into the system” said the manager.

Although this is Meredith’s first call-up and he’s unlikely to feature in the game against Jordan, it’ll be a highly beneficial experience for him to be part of a competitive international football camp.  It’s also a fitting reward for a player who has spent his entire senior career playing in the Football League and non-league working hard to achieve his dream and potentially represent his country.

There’s no doubt that Meredith is a very capable footballer, he’s a player who’s in-form at club level and a perfect example of how hard work can pay off at every level of football.  However, the step up to international level is often trial by fire and a real test of a player’s ability and mental strength.  There’s still plenty of hard work to do if Meredith is to establish himself as a regular for the Socceroos, but at the moment, it’s all praise for Bradford City’s star, Aussie left-back.

By Jamie Allen

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Posted in: Football