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Spira sticks solid despite Ange grievances

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SOCCEROO Matthew Spiranovic has no plans to leave the Chinese second division any time soon.

National team boss Ange Postecoglou has made no secret of his desire to see Spiranovic ply his trade at a higher level, but the central defender said it was a show of loyalty to remain at the club he has been at since mid-2015 when it was relegated at the end of last season.

Having suffered a serious quad injury in March, the fit again 29-year-old is back in the Socceroos setup for the first time since last November’s 2-2 draw with Thailand.

Matthew Spiranovic shows the Japanese who’s boss in Melbourne last year.

And Spiranovic is excited to once again have the opportunity to add to his 34 international caps.

“(The injury) was in March, just one of those unlucky ones where I got a knee to the quad and it was a pretty severe cork that required nearly two months of rehab to come back from,” Spiranovic said.

“It’s a bit unfortunate. But I’m feeling good now, no symptoms, which is great.

“Having missed out on a couple of camps it’s always nice to come back in.

“It’s never easy being injured and watching from the sidelines, but that’s part of the game and you become accustomed to little setbacks.

“You’ve got to fight your way back. But like I said, it’s nice to be here now.”

It is common place in leagues across the world for players to jump ship when their side gets relegated.

But Spiranovic said there were many factors at play when it came to decision time as to what he was going to do at the end of last year.

“I always had intentions of fulfilling my contract,” he said.

“I was captain of the club and the club showed a lot of faith and belief in me.

“Ultimately if there was an outcome that would be suitable for both the club and myself then potentially something could have come of it, but as it turned out we’re forging ahead together and I’m happy.”

But does the Victorian have ambitions to move any time soon?

“That was the length of my contract and at the moment I’m happy at the club,” he said.

“They’ve been very good to me and if something was to come up, that would be beneficial for both the club and myself, then perhaps we could look at it.”

Upon selecting Spiranovic in his 23-man squad last week, Postecoglou reiterated none too subtly that he would prefer to see Spiranovic make a move.

“He’s playing regularly. The standard he’s playing at is probably not ideal,” Postecoglou said.

“We believe Matty could certainly be playing at a higher level, but the most important thing is that he’s playing.”

But Spiranovic isn’t taking his coach’s comments to heart.

“Of course, you always want to be striving to play at the top level, but then we’ve seen on occasions when players have gone to big leagues and have lacked the game time and match fitness,” Spiranovic said.

“It’s an interesting one. I can only comment for myself, playing regularly and feeling fit and well – that’s the positive I’m taking out of it.

“For me, the most important thing has always been about playing games, being fit and well.

“I’ve found throughout my career that if I’m playing regularly then I can perform at my highest level.

“That was my main focus and then obviously it’s up to the coach to determine if that’s at a high enough level to be involved here.

“Once again, I’m grateful for the opportunity and I’m confident I can do a job.”

While many have questioned the overall standard of the Chinese second division – and Chinese club football as a whole, despite the influx of money and overseas megastars in recent years – Spiranovic insists he is still being ably tested.

“From my point of view, being a defender, I’m still tested week in week out,” he said.

“The teams are spending money on the attacking third of the pitch and I feel like I am getting tested each week.

“So in that sense it does give me confidence coming into the national team and playing against the quality that we’ll face in the next few games.”

Spiranovic returns to a Socceroos team that is distinctly different to the one he left nine months ago.

It has reverted to a three-at-the-back system, which naturally has implications for how many and what style of defenders are picked to play.

Spiranovic said, if selected, he would be OK to play anywhere across the back three.

“Throughout my career I’ve pretty much played all across the backline.

“I’m comfortable with that and whatever the boss asks me I’m confident I can perform at a good level.

“It’s been interesting, you’ve seen the progression over the last few games and a standout performance against Chile,

“So you can see that the team is taking on board the information and have started to show a lot of positive signs playing in that system and formation.”

Originally published as Spira sticks solid despite Ange grievances

Source: sports dailytelegraph

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