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Jul 22, 2013

Thwaite ready to take Socceroos chance

Michael Thwaite was sitting on the bench for the Socceroos' historic triumph over Uruguay in 2005.

The dramatic penalty shoot-out victory under coach Guus Hiddink secured Australia's first World Cup berth in 32 years.

But eight years and two World Cups later the 30-year-old defender is yet to make the cut for the showpiece event.

Brazil 2014 represents Thwaite's best chance to secure a World Cup spot and he intends to use every opportunity possible to push for selection .

The Perth Glory player is part of Holger Osieck's squad currently contesting the East Asian Cup in South Korea and earned his 12th cap against the hosts in the tournament opener on Saturday.

His strong performances at club level are not lost on the German coach, having also been part of the squad for the World Cup qualifiers last month.

But after making his Socceroos debut in 2005 in a friendly against Jamaica, things haven't always gone Thwaite's way.

A pay dispute at his Romanian club that year saw him get no game time for months and fall out of favour with Hiddink in the lead-up to Germany 2006.

Heading back to Australia in 2008 to play with Melbourne Victory before joining Gold Coast a year later, Thwaite dropped off the Socceroos scene ahead of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, with then coach Pim Verbeek making no secret what he thought of selecting A-League players.

And now he's more determined than ever and feels his versatility may be what helps get him across the line.

A natural centre-back, Thwaite can play across the entire backline and also as a defensive midfielder.

He slotted in at left-back against South Korea on Saturday - a perennial problem spot for the Socceroos.

Osieck played Matt McKay in the position last month but it appears he's yet settle on a regular player for the spot.

"You would like to cement your position but I guess in the national team because there's so many bright prospects playing in the team and starting regularly in those positions, you have to be versatile," he said.

"You have top be ready to come on off the bench or come in when there's a suspension or injury. Anything can happen.

"But I think Holger is making the right decisions in his first-team selections hence why we're going to the World Cup."

In that 2005 Uruguay game it was the likes of Tony Popovic and Tony Vidmar who kept Thwaite on the bench, now he's contending with centre-backs Lucas Neill and Sasa Ognenovski along with the host of other regular defenders.

"It's been tough for me. I've come up against a lot of good defenders in that era and this current one," he said.

"But any position that I get a chance for I'll take it with both hands."

Australia will play Japan in Hwaseong on Thursday ahead of their last clash of the four-team tournament against China in Seoul on Sunday.

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