Millwall’s West Australian defender Shane Lowry might have missed out on making history in the FA Cup on Saturday but he is still eyeing off breaking into the Socceroos side.
Lowry has been one of Australian football’s star performers in Europe in 2012-2013.
He has made 34 starts in the league, as well as two appearances off the bench, more than any other Millwall player this season.
He’s also scored a fantastic goal, showing his dead-ball ability with this free-kick effort against Charlton.
On Saturday Lowry played in Millwall’s 2-0 FA Cup semi-final loss to Wembley, providing the cross for the Lions’ best chance in the match.
He was just one game away from joining an elite group, as only four Australians have played in a FA Cup final – Joe Marston, Craig Johnston, Tim Cahill and Harry Kewell.
Those four could easily be considered to be among our greatest ever footballers.
Marston made it with Preston North End in 1954, but was unsuccessful.
Johnston made history in 1986 when he became the first Aussie to win the FA Cup, scoring as well, in Liverpool’s 3-1 romp over Everton.
Cahill made it there with Millwall in 2005 but couldn’t defeat Manchester United, while Kewell picked up a winner’s medal with the Reds in 2006.
Millwall might not have gone through to face Manchester City in the final this time round but Lowry is in the middle of a breakout season for the Lions.
It has been a long and sometimes bumpy road for the 23-year-old, even being assaulted by a fan on the pitch while playing for Leeds United.
Lowry originally moved overseas to join Aston Villa back in 2005 as a 16-year-old.
Although he has already been with five different English clubs in his professional career, he seems to have found a home at The Den.
The Perth-born defender joined the notorious club, where Cahill, Lucas Neill and Kevin Muscat played previously, on loan in 2011. In January last year Lowry signed a two-and-a-half year deal with the Championship side.
This season has arguably been his best ever in English football.
A left back or central defender, Lowry has been close to Socceroos selection several times.
After playing for Ireland’s Under-17 and Under-21 national sides, he was picked by Pim Verbeek for friendlies in 2009.
He was a member of the Socceroos 2010 World Cup provisional 30-man squad but didn’t make the final cut.
Surprisingly, considering his versatility on the left and in the centre of defence, and Australia’s noted issues in those areas, he hasn’t received a look-in under Holger Osieck.
After coming through the junior ranks at ECU Joondalup, and then at Aston Villa, Lowry was sent out on loan to Plymouth Argyle, Leeds United, Sheffield United and Millwall. He gained European experience at the Villans but is now excelling at Millwall.
He played a big part in Millwall’s FA Cup run and took his place on the left flank in the semi against the Latics.
There are few Aussies who are playing regularly in Europe, let alone starting, and even few in backline positions.
Lowry’s good form deserves a reward from Holger Osieck. Many deride the standard of the Championship but it is one of the toughest and most competitive leagues in the world. It should not be underestimated.
Central defence and left back remain one of the Socceroos’ biggest problem areas. Instead of converting left-footed midfielders into defenders, perhaps its time we took a punt on someone who is experienced and getting consistent game time at playing in that position.
Lowry could be that solution.
Follow John Davidson on Twitter at @johnnyddavidson