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Fortune proves fickle as Victory's Tom Rogic and James Troisi push for World Cup berths

Two players returned to Australia and signed for Melbourne Victory this season in a bid to boost their World Cup prospects.

One, Tom Rogic, has been hit by injury and has figured far less than he, and the Victory hierarchy, had hoped.

The other, James Troisi, has been ever present as Victory campaigned in the A-League and Asian Champions League and has emerged as a key man for the navy blues.

It's an intriguing comparison, and one which shows that ability is only one part of the equation if a player is going to succeed at the highest level.

He also needs luck, with form and injuries, and the right mental approach.

Rogic has had little luck since joining Victory, to great fanfare, from Glasgow Celtic in the January transfer window. He has made little more than cameo appearances and has yet to justify, in any sustained fashion, the hype that accompanied the signing of a player of his undoubted talents.


Troisi's return was low-key after a decade spent battling for a breakthrough at the highest levels in Europe.

Although he was on the books of Premier League club Newcastle as a youngster and is now officially owned by Juventus, he has not played for the Italian giants. Troisi spent several years in Turkey before moving to Italy, where another club, Atalanta, bought half of his ownership alongside Juve.

But for Victory the 25-year-old has been in hot form week in and week out.

The Adelaide-born midfielder/striker has shown great mental strength to shrug off the disappointments of Europe to regroup and establish himself as one of the best Australians of his generation in his first season in the A-League.

Troisi notched a dozen goals during the home and away season, ranking him second (behind Newcastle's Adam Taggart) in the race for the Golden Boot.

But more than that, he has been a provider on numerous occasions, and he hit the target three times in Victory's gallant Asian Champions League campaign which ended on Tuesday night with a scoreless draw in South Korea against Jeonbuk Motors.

Troisi missed that match, as did captain Mark Milligan, who was suspended, the rested Pablo Contreras and the ineligible Gui Finkler. And it those four players who are likely to prove pivotal to Victory's hopes when they return against Brisbane on Sunday.

Such has been Troisi's form that he has surely played his way into the World Cup squad.

Socceroo boss Ange Postecoglou signed him for Victory when he was still the manager there, so obviously believed that he had plenty to offer, and while Postecoglou left just three rounds into the campaign to take on the national team job he has kept a close eye on the player in the succeeding months.

He must have been impressed.

There were some shaky moments early on, especially when Kevin Muscat replaced Postecoglou - Troisi was on the end of a tongue-lashing from his new coach when he seemed to sulk after being substituted in a tactical reshuffle following Adrian Leijer's dismissal against Adelaide in November. But he has put that behind him to become one of the first names on Muscat's team sheet when the coach is selecting his strongest line-up.

Troisi desperately wants to go to the World Cup and believes he has made as good a case as he can, playing regularly, scoring goals and showing desire and commitment.

Muscat says Troisi has done as much as possible to stake his claim, and he paid tribute to the player's attiude and commitment to training and doing what he needs to to stay in shape given the demanding match schedule Victory has faced.

"He's reaping the benefits of that now because his body is in as good a nick as it's going to get [for] him,'' Muscat says.

"He's been in superb form and, more than that, he's working ever so hard for his teammates, so I couldn't be happier with where he sits."

As far as the World Cup squad is concerned, Muscat says, ''he's not done his chances any harm."

''He's playing regularly - one of the boxes needing to be ticked - he's scoring goals, his work-rate's tremendous, he's setting up goals. He's going very, very well for us."

Troisi's success throws into relief the disappointment over Rogic's inability to get on the field and make a contribution to Victory's campaign both domestically and in the continental competition. There is no guarantee, as yet, that he will be able to play at the weekend.

In fact, if playing regularly is a criteria for being part of the squad for Brazil, it's fair to ask whether the talented 21-year-old has done enough to merit a call-up.

It is almost impossible to see him as a first-choice player in the Socceroos' starting line-up now - although many would have predicted, just over three months ago when he arrived in Melbourne, that that is what he would have become.

In fact, Troisi may well have gone past him in the pecking order.

Rogic's natural ability will probably mean that Postecoglou - who had been a huge fan earlier in his career - will include him in the squad if only to give him experience of the big time so that if he makes the progress expected over the next four years he would be ready to play his part in Russia.

But as in everything in life, there are no guarantees.

Both Rogic and Troisi will be hoping Victory can upset the applecart and turn over Brisbane on Sunday to give them an extra week and the biggest stage of all, the grand final, to prove their worth one last time.