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Nov 13, 2013

Ryan, Langerak commence battle

For most Australians it was a moment tinged with sadness but for two, learning of Socceroo Mark Schwarzer's retirement was the instant they realised playing at the 2014 World Cup was within their grasp.

Mathew Ryan and Mitch Langerak are the two glovemen in new coach Ange Postecoglou's 22-man Australian squad in Sydney preparing to face Costa Rica on Tuesday.

And longtime No.1 goalkeeper Schwarzer's shock retirement from international football last week has kicked off a battle royale between them to become his successor.

"He (Schwarzer) has been an icon of the game. He's set such a high standard in the goalkeeping position," said 21-year-old Ryan on Thursday.

"Both Mitch and I are privileged to be in this camp, the first one since he announced his retirement, and have the opportunity to fill his position."

The goalkeeping spot has been one of the few positions where Australia has been spoilt for choice and while Borussia Dortmund reserve goalie Langerak has been considered the main contender to succeed Schwarzer, Ryan is the only one getting regular first-team football in Europe at Club Brugge.

The likes of Adelaide's Eugene Galekovic, Reading's Adam Federici and Liverpool's Brad Jones are not to be discounted, but Ryan and Langerak are now in prime position.

Postecoglou has given no indication who is likely to start at Allianz Stadium on Tuesday.

And looking ahead to Brazil in seven months time, Ryan, who's earned three caps, admit's the reality that it could be him between the posts only hit home when he heard Schwarzer had hung up the boots.

"When I heard the news on Twitter I was quite surprised," he said.

"But I straight away got thinking about the up and coming World Cup.

"He's made that spot his own for the last decade or so, and rightly so.

"It was hard for me and I'm sure speaking for Mitch as well, we didn't start thinking ahead to the World Cup and the possibility of not only being involved in a World Cup but playing in one until then.

"But there's a long way to go and we just need to stay grounded and stay focused on the present and who knows what can happen in a few months time."

Langerak, who was included in many of former coach Holger Osieck's squads, was only handed his debut in Australia's recent 6-0 loss to France - the German's final match before he got sacked.

He went on to earn his second cap in the Socceroos' 3-0 win over Canada just days later and says, while recognising the high standard Schwarzer has set, neither him nor Ryan are overawed by replacing him.

"We know what he's done over the last 15 years for the national team and if you look at it from afar it's quite daunting," he said.

"But for us being in the position where we're training every day and working hard, we're at good clubs so we're right on the pace.

"So I'm sure it won't take long for both of us to start making our stamp on the team."

AAP ash/nh

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