In-form Meredith targets Socceroos recall

Dec 12, 2017 - 7:00 PM Millwall defender James Meredith has been proving people wrong since he was 17 and is desperate to do so again and make it to the World Cup.

The 29-year-old Albury-born left-back has been a constant for the Lions in his first season at Championship level, earning rave reviews from his manager Neil Harris.

Last Saturday Meredith helped his side to an excellent 0-0 draw at high-flying Aston Villa, adding to his burgeoning reputation at a club where Socceroos greats Lucas Neill and Tim Cahill made their names.

That point at Villa Park came on the back of a 3-1 win over promotion-chasing Sheffield United leaving Millwall, who boast one of the smallest budgets in the division, comfortably ensconced in mid-table.

Meredith's path has been a tough one, leaving home at 16 to sign for Derby County, where he was unable to make the grade and subsequently released.

Spells with non-league clubs Telford United and York City followed before a five-year stint at Bradford City who he helped to the League Cup final and promotion to League One in 2013.

After the Bantams' defeat in the play-off final to Millwall last season, Meredith swapped west Yorkshire for southeast London and has comfortably stepped up a level.

However, there's barely been a whisper of him adding to his two international caps having been frozen out by former coach Ange Postecoglou after helping the Socceroos to World Cup qualifying wins over Bangladesh and Kyrgyzstan in 2015.

"It was frustrating because I played well and I felt I deserved to be involved again," Meredith told AAP.

"I thought my career was really going to kick on in terms of the international perspective so it was disappointing.

"He didn't give me any indication as to why. One of his staff messaged me to say they were going to go for a couple of the younger players and that was it."

With Australia still without a coach following Postecoglou's shock resignation, Meredith hopes being in the same league as Socceroos skipper Mile Jedinak, Massimo Luongo, Bailey Wright and Jackson Irvine will grab the attention of his replacement.

Bournemouth benchwarmer Brad Smith, who has appeared in just 22 club matches in three years, and Aziz Behich, who plays for Turkish Super League side Bursaspor, are currently ahead of him in the pecking order.

"I am just going to do the best I can and hopefully I'll get picked," he said.

"When I was in League Two and playing for the Socceroos, you could say 'it's not a very good league', but now I'm in the Championship it's a lot harder to be ignored.

"I hope I get some recognition back at home. I believe I'm Australia's best left-back and I've been saying that for years.

"We have some very good left-backs, but I back myself. We'll see who the manager is but I would at least like the opportunity."

Harris said he finds it hard to understand why Meredith has been overlooked.

"He's an outstanding professional and great lad," Harris told AAP.

"I am very surprised he's not been in the squad at least.

"Obviously Australia made it to the World Cup so they must have an abundance of talent at left-back because there aren't many better out there than James Meredith."

Source: AAP

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