BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
Australia international Ryan McGowan insists Tom Rogic is determined to prove he belongs among the world’s elite as the Socceroos prepare to cross swords with France.
The Aussies face a daunting start to their World Cup campaign in Russia on Saturday morning against a star-studded Les Bleus side.
Rogic, who was pinpointed as the danger-man by French boss Didier Deschamps earlier this week, will do battle with the likes of N’Golo Kante, Paul Pogba and Corentin Tolisso in the centre of midfield.
He lauded: “Tom has had a great season at Celtic and you can see how much they value him by giving him a new contract.
“He missed the previous World Cup through injury and will have the bit between his teeth, desperate to prove he is capable of playing at the very highest level.
“If Tom Rogic plays well, Australia tend to play well – so no pressure! Hopefully, he can cause them problems and keep us up the pitch.
“This crop might not have the same household names as our ‘golden generation’ of 2006 – Mark Viduka, Lucas Neill, Mark Bresciano, Harry Kewell, Craig Moore – however, we are determined to do well and have plenty of talent in there.
“Tommy is one of those, he can win games on his own and hopefully he provides that little bit of magic we might need.”
Rogic will not be the only familiar name in the Australia squad to SPFL fans, with Jamie Maclaren, who bagged eight goals for Hibs during a loan spell from Darmstadt in the second half of last season, also involved.
And McGowan would not be surprised in the slightest to the prolific poacher emerge as a hero.
He continued: “Everyone in Scotland saw what Jamie was about. He might not be involved in the game for long periods, but when the chance comes, he very rarely misses it; very rarely squanders it.
“If it’s 0-0 or we’re 1-0 down, I’d be really confident that Jamie could come on and snatch something.”
Brandford defender McGowan, who missed out on the tournament due to a knee injury, added: “We know how tough it will be. France are one of the tournament favourites and the most important thing for Australia is to turn up on the day, perform at 100 per cent and make sure there are no ‘what ifs’.
“If France play at their best and beat us, then you hold your hands up.”