Socceroos defender Harry Souttar insists a lack of club minutes won’t stop him from successfully leading Australia’s defence at the Asian Cup.
Towering central defender Souttar has been a rock of coach Graham Arnold’s defence but has been out of favour at English Championship leaders Leicester City.
But with Arnold’s backing, the 25-year-old is confident that he can hit his straps.
That will be crucial for Thursday night’s group stage match against Syria at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium in Doha, when Australia can effectively seal progression to the round of 16 from group B.
“Obviously, any player just wants to play football so I’m looking at it as a positive that I’m here and I’m getting minutes and playing football, doing what I love again,” Souttar said.
“Obviously at the club, for me personally, it’s been a frustrating time but the boys have done fantastic this season.
“They are where they are in the league for a reason. I can’t complain too much. If that’s what the manager wants, they’re doing a great job.
“I feel great. I think that I proved coming off my ACL injury in the World Cup, having not played football for a year, that I can come in and still play at a high level.
“It’s obviously different this time because I’ve been training and fit so I feel even better.
“You always want to pull that shirt on, it just gives you an added something. You’re running on adrenaline and you’re playing football for a different reason as well, which always helps.
“There’s always that little bit more of that something special in the air.”
Souttar has been linked to loan moves away from Leicester, including to clubs in Scotland and Saudi Arabia, but insisted he wasn’t focused on his club future.
“A club move has not even crossed my mind. As soon as I came into camp on the first it was just full concentration on what this tournament is and how we’re going to succeed,” he said.
“My full concentration is on Australia and I think it would be disrespectful to the country, my teammates, the staff here if my head was anywhere else and thinking about these other things when we’ve got a massive tournament here.
“All I will say is that obviously it’s not been great that I’ve not got match minutes at my club and obviously I know that that can’t continue if I want to be a part of the national team.”
Souttar will be a key goal scoring threat at set pieces but was adamant Australia could create chances from open play against likely a deep-lying Syria defence.
“I know it’s a bit cliche, but there’s no easy games in tournament football; everyone’s playing for something and they’re gonna make it really difficult,” he said.
“The players that we’ve gotten at the top end of the pitch and the quality that we have, we can certainly create a lot of opportunities.”