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Jun 13, 2013

I'm best Socceroo left-back option: McKay

It's long been the problem spot for the Socceroos, but defender Matt McKay feels he could be Australia's solution at left-back.

Normally a central midfielder, McKay admits he was surprised when coach Holger Osieck put him in the left-back role.

He's since played close to a dozen times in the position and, while he admits there is still room for improvement, McKay feels he's the best man for the job.

"At the moment, I am probably, yeah," he said.

"Initially, I was surprised when Holger put me in that position.

"It's not the position I've played at my club but it's something that I'm understanding more and I'm learning about so I don't feel as uncomfortable there as I was initially.

"I know a lot of people say it is a problem position but I don't think it is."

McKay is almost certain to line up in the same spot when the Socceroos face Iraq in their final qualifier at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday.

With a win securing Australia a World Cup berth, Osieck is likely to stick with the same successful line-up which held Japan to a 1-1 draw and thumped Jordan 4-0.

Despite his one hiccup during the Japan game, where he conceded a penalty with his handball in the box, McKay has been impressive.

So impressive that squad member Michael Zullo, who plays left-back at his Dutch club FC Utrecht, hasn't featured in Osieck's starting 11 of late.

McKay, who plays for Chinese side Changchun Yatai, says it's his versatility that most appeals to Osieck.

"I train hard and I'm versatile - I can play anywhere," he said.

"So as long as I'm playing regularly for my club and playing well for my club, I'm a chance to play in any position for the Socceroos.

"Holger sees that I can do a job at left-back and believes in me and that confidence in me helps me to do well in that position."

The former Brisbane Roar skipper concedes there are aspects of his defensive game he needs to improve and says, on top of training, he's watching videos of various matches to help.

"Going forward is fine but positioning-wise defensively and one-on-one when players are running at me, that's something that I've got to try to work."

But as for whether he's done enough to cement his spot at left-back?

"That's a good question," he said.

"I'm happy to play there - don't get me wrong. I enjoy playing there - it's a challenge.

"If I'm now the player to fill that role for the future, I'm happy to do that even long term.

"I just want to be playing and helping the side and, if that means I play left-back, that's fine."

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