The Olyroos may have reached Tokyo 2020 with all the finesse of Eric the Eel, but there’s no doubt their qualification is a huge achievement and a major boost for Australian football.
Both Tom Rogic and Daniel Arzani are integral figures to the hopes of the Soceroos, yet their current predicament at Celtic should have fans worried.
Arzani and Rogic are both rare players gifted with that creative flair that can unlock defences and lift fans’ bums from chairs. However, both men now find their progress under threat at European giants Celtic, as injuries and the emergence of new talent threatens their progress.
Daniel Arzani burst onto the global scene at the 2018 World Cup. His ability to dance through opponents with the ball lit a sense of excitement in the Socceroos faithful and resulted in Manchester City picking up the starlet and loaning him to Celtic.
Sadly, within a few months at Celtic, Arzani suffered a horrendous knee injury that derailed his entire campaign.
Now that the 20-year-old is fit again, he has a new problem to contend with: extreme competition. Celtic boast an array of top-class wingers, James Forrest being the pick of the bunch. The Scottish player of the year was on fire last season with 19 goals and 11 assists.
Along with Forrest, Celtic have Scott Sinclair, who was their top goal-scorer in the last two campaigns. They also boast two very talented young wingers in Lewis Morgan and Mikey Johnston, who have both recently impressed manager Neil Lennon.
While there is no doubt Arzani is a top talent, he needs the right environment to flourish and Celtic seems to have too many strong options in that area of the park, which will inevitably limit his game time and progress.
Tom Rogic is another Socceroos star plying his trade at Celtic, and similar to Arzani, an array of injuries have halted his progress and left the playmaker spending more time on the treatment table than on the pitch.
This run of injuries has resulted in the emergence of Ryan Christie, a player who has revelled in the absence of Rogic and produced elite performances in the Australian’s absence.
Former Celtic striker and pundit Chris Sutton wrote about his fear for Rogic’s future at Celtic, suggesting “his mantle is in serious danger of being taken by Ryan Christie, who is developing into the No.10 the club always hoped he’d be when he was signed”.
Rogic still remains one of the club’s top players but injuries have now jeopardised his position as a first-choice member of the starting XI.
While there is still hope for both men at Celtic, it is going to be an uphill task for both players to become regular starters and failure to do so doesn’t bode well for the Socceroos’ chances in upcoming tournaments.