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ESPN FC  By ESPN

Liverpool block Australia Brad Smith selection for 2016 Olympic qualifiers

Brad Smith has broken into Jurgen Klopp's first-team plans at Liverpool this season.

Australia coach Ange Postecoglou says he is disappointed that Liverpool have blocked the Socceroos from selecting Brad Smith for the qualifying games ahead of the 2016 Olympics.

Smith, 21, was left without a club this summer after failing to agree terms over a new Anfield contract, but the dispute was resolved with the defender re-signing with the club in November.

The left-back has since broken into Jurgen Klopp's first-team plans at Anfield, impressing off the bench in the 6-1 Capital One Cup win at Southampton before his first start for Liverpool in their Europe League group stage stalemate at FC Sion on Dec. 10.

Smith -- who made his Socceroos debut in September 2014 -- now looks set to be Alberto Moreno's back-up on the left flank, and Postecoglou says the Premier League club are reluctant to let Smith travel with the Socceroos' under-23 side to Qatar for an Olympic qualifying tournament in January.

"It's a bit of a double-edged sword; we've carried Brad with the Olyroos all season and now he's broken into the first team frame they won't release him for the qualifiers which is disappointing from our perspective," Postecoglou told Fox Sports.

"Aurelio Vidmar [Olyroos coach] has selected him all the way along even though he wasn't training so that's the disappointing part about it."

Despite his disappointment, Postecoglou is delighted to have given Smith his international debut last year, considering the defender -- born in Sydney -- had also been eligible to play for England as both his parents are English.

"It's great to see him getting an opportunity now and I know he's rated pretty highly within Liverpool speaking to the people there," he added.

"I'm glad we locked him in with the national team because I've always felt that he's one that could play at the highest level."

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