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Rogic bangs down door to national team

Date

Lee Gaskin

Tom Rogic in his Socceroos kit.

Tom Rogic in his Socceroos kit. Photo: Getty Images

Socceroos bolter Tom Rogic is keeping his feet on the ground and refusing to dream of featuring in the 2014 World Cup.

A year after starting in relative obscurity for Belconnen United in the ACT Premier League, the 19-year-old's rapid rise was yesterday confirmed when he was named in a 19-man national squad for next week's friendly with South Korea in Hwaseong.

Rogic has been on cloud nine since being told of his selection on Tuesday - three days after banging down the door with a sublime two-goal performance for the Central Coast Mariners in their 7-2 thumping of Sydney FC.

''To be honest, I was a bit shocked,'' Rogic told The Canberra Times yesterday. ''I didn't expect to get a call-up so soon, but obviously I'm very proud and honoured.

''It still doesn't sound right when I hear my name and Socceroos together.''

Rogic's selection caps a stunning rise.

This time last year he was scoring goals for fun for the Blue Devils on Canberra's suburban grounds, having returned from England after winning the Nike Chance competition. He was offered a deal with English club Reading but had to turn it down after being unable to secure a work permit.

Rogic has made an instant impact in the A-League since signing with the Mariners in January.

Mariners coach Graham Arnold has highlighted the fact the former Futsalroo is the only Australian No. 10 in the domestic league, and one of the few attacking midfielders capable of running at defenders.

Even so, Socceroos coach Holger Osieck doesn't want to burden Rogic with the weight of expectation.

''I've followed his way so far - I don't want to call it 'career' because he's still at the beginning of his playing,'' Osieck said. ''He is a good boy, he has a lot of talent and a lot of special qualities but he is far from being on a top international level.

''I would like you guys [the media] to consider that - not to put him up on a pedestal where he doesn't belong right now.

''He has all the ingredients to become a good player, to even represent Australia. That's one thing, but he's not there yet.

''I have had numerous experiences in my coaching where young, talented players were put prematurely on a level that they later never reached.

''It can be more destructive to the development of the boy than beneficial. I would like you to consider that. Please don't destroy him.''

Rogic isn't taking his selection for granted and is well aware he needs to make the most of his chances if he is to be in the mix when the World Cup rolls around in two years.

But with an ageing squad and sub-par results in qualifying, the door is open for Rogic to press his claim for a permanent role.

''It's definitely too early to talk about the World Cup, it's such a big thing,'' he said. ''Thinking any further than this call-up is a bit too much.''

Rogic's inclusion doubles the ACT's representation in the national squad, with Italian-based midfielder Carl Valeri in line to make his 50th appearance for the Socceroos.

Next Wednesday's match at Hwaseong Stadium will serve as preparation for next month's East Asian Cup qualifiers, where it is expected Osieck will rely heavily on young and Australian-based talent.

The squad to face 25th-ranked South Korea still features several European-based players, including goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer and Luke Wilkshire, while the likes of Tommy Oar and James Holland are expected to earn rare starts.

SOCCEROOS SQUAD

Eli Babalj, Aziz Behich, Alex Brosque, James Holland, Mathew Leckie, Ryan McGowan, Matt McKay, Lucas Neill, Tommy Oar, Tom Rogic, Nikita Rukavytsya, Mathew Ryan, Adam Sarota, Mark Schwarzer, Matthew Spiranovic, Archie Thompson, Michael Thwaite, Carl Valeri, Luke Wilkshire.

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