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The Roar


Langerak on track for Socceroos start at Asian Cup with Ryan undergoing surgery after training mishap

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12th December, 2023

Former Socceroos forward Archie Thompson is urging Graham Arnold to break bread with Mitch Langerak and offer him a route back to the national team set-up as the Australia boss sweats on the fitness of Mat Ryan.

The Socceroos No.1 suffered a broken cheekbone during a training session with Dutch club AZ Alkmaar and now faces a race against the clock to be fit for Australia’s Asian Cup campaign in January.

Ryan successfully underwent surgery but will now be sidelined for AZ’s remaining games prior to the winter break in Holland.

It leaves Ryan with little time to be match fit for the Socceroos’ tournament opener against India in Qatar on January 13.

The ‘keeper’s injury has thrown a further spanner in the works for Arnold, who is set to be without striker Brandon Borrrello and defender Ryan Strain.

The goalkeeping picture has changed rapidly for the Socceroos since last year’s World Cup, with Danny Vukovic retiring from international football and Sydney’s Andrew Redmayne undergoing a form slump. 

The chasm left for Arnold to fill has led to Network Ten pundit Thompson arguing for Langerak’s reinstatement to the national team set-up. 


Langerak has been a stand-out performer in the J-League in recent seasons but was contentiously left out of the squad for last year’s World Cup despite deciding to come out of retirement. 

The 35-year-old hasn’t been seen in the Socceroos fold since but Thompson argued the eight-cap international would give Arnold an experienced and dependable head if Ryan encountered any setbacks on his road to recovery. 

“Mitch has had another amazing year in Japan and he’s a seasoned veteran,” Thompson said. 

“I’d love Mitch to be there and while there are some great young ‘keepers, the question is whether they’re experienced enough for that level. 

“I’ve always been a big fan of Mitch and when he was at Melbourne Victory and wasn’t making the first team, you could see he was a future Socceroo. He’s been unfortunate with timing. 


“Mitch probably hasn’t played that many internationals because of Maty but you want someone who is seasoned in that environment.

“Sometimes things don’t go the way that you want, but who knows? Maybe this is a story that’s not been finished.” 

Adelaide’s Joe Gauci and former Melbourne City goalkeeper Thomas Glover are Arnold’s most obvious selections if Ryan isn’t deemed fit to feature for the Socceroos.

Gauci has just one cap to his name and his form has dipped significantly from last year while the uncapped Glover has been struggling for gametime at Middlesborough. 

Arnold will name his final squad for the Asian Cup on December 22.

The Socceroos face Bahrain on January 6 before their tournament opener against India.