Harry Souttar (l) has been told by Graham Arnold his place in the line-up is not guaranteed. Image by Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS
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‘Can’t go on forever’: Souttar gets Socceroos ultimatum

George Clarke March 21, 2024

Graham Arnold has warned Socceroos defender Harry Souttar his place in the national team set-up is no longer guaranteed amid a struggle for gametime at club side Leicester.

Souttar has been a towering presence in Arnold’s defence and he is expected to assume his role at centre back in Thursday’s qualifier against Lebanon at CommBank Stadium.

But beyond this week’s game and the following Tuesday’s meeting with the Lebanese in Canberra, Arnold admits Souttar needs to find a solution to his lack of minutes in the English Championship. 

 Graham Arnold (r) is concerned about the limited game time of Harry Souttar (2-l) at Leicester. Image by Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS 

The 25-year-old hasn’t played a full 90 minutes for the Foxes since October last year and Arnold is growing increasingly concerned about the direction of the defender’s career. 

“I know he’s going through a tough time at Leicester and I had a chat with him today, and he has to fix it,” Arnold said on Wednesday.

“This can’t go on forever.

“But what we are doing at the moment is helping his career by giving him match minutes in these FIFA windows and showing what he can do.

“As I said to him today this next transfer window is going to be really crucial for him.”

Souttar sealed the move to Leicester from Stoke following his exploits at the 2022 World Cup with Australia, starring for the Socceroos in just a handful of games after returning from an ACL injury.

“He’s so important to the team with the size of him,” Arnold said. 

“He’s probably our leading goalscorer, he has scored 11 goals in 25 games, and he’s a centre back, and he is a leader.”

Two wins over Lebanon in the next window will guarantee Australia’s qualification to the final round of play-offs for the 2026 World Cup in the USA, Canada and Mexico.

Even considering the gulf in the FIFA rankings between the two sides – the Socceroos are 23rd while Lebanon are 115th – the Australia boss says he has no inclination to experiment. 

“The most important thing is to stick to what we’ve done,” Arnold said. 

“We’ve got this one training session (on Wednesday) to work on and remind them of the tactical side of things. 

“The worst thing I believe I can do is change too much and confuse (them) because when you confuse you get frustration so it’s about keeping things very, very simple.”