He’s one of the most experienced players in this Caltex Socceroos squad so goalkeeper Brad Jones is well credentialed in what it takes to make a successful team.
And the 36-year-old West Australian has seen enough since his international exile was ended by new boss Bert van Marwijk to suggest the Caltex Socceroos could make some noise in Russia.
“I think in this group there is a lot of togetherness. A lot of guys in the same age bracket that have known each other for a long time,” Jones said.
“It’s a close-knit group where pretty much the core of the squad, it’s a good base because they are good blokes, good people to help bring in players that are joining.
“The young players that come in, they have to follow that group because they know what they need to work in this environment.
“It’s a good group of players, we’re definitely a team. We want to build a strong team and have that work ethic.
“People always talk about the Aussie mentality and definitely in this group I think we will show that.”
Australian goalkeeper Brad Jones makes a save during the Socceroos training session at the Gloria Football Club on May 22, 2018 in Antalya, Turkey. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
For Jones, being back in the Caltex Socceroos fold and about to head to a FIFA World Cup is beyond his wildest dreams.
Like many, the former Bayswater City youth assumed his international days were over after a long absence from Caltex Socceroos selection.
But a couple of excellent seasons for Feyenoord brought him back into the reckoning, with van Marwijk – who knew Jones well from his time in the Netherlands – giving Jones a shot to finally go to a World Cup.
Van Marwijk said after the March friendlies against Norway and Colombia that the number one jersey was wide open and Jones is focused on putting his best foot forward.
“I’d have to say I thought I’d be watching it [the FIFA World Cup] on the box than being here,” he admitted.
“You have to have that mindset. I didn’t come in to roll over and give it to someone else,” Jones added.
Brad Jones throws the ball during the Socceroos training session at the Gloria Football Club on May 24, 2018 in Antalya, Turkey. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
Goalkeeper coach Tony Franken working with Mat Ryan.
“At the same time, I respect Maty [Ryan] in what he’s done. He’s done it for the last four years and done it for the Socceroos and for his team [Brighton] as well.
“I’m not saying I’m going to walk in and just get it but I want to push as hard as I can and say ‘I’ve had a go’ if it comes down to it.
“When we get to the World Cup, whoever is playing you want them to perform at their best, you want to the team to perform at their best and we want to try and do something as a group of players that we can be proud of.
“When we have this group we have to be solid together. Bert’s said in the past we want to have a family feel and pushing in the same direction.
“We’ve definitely got that good group, whoever is playing I think the group will be behind those guys.”
Jones added of his form over the last few years: “It’s probably the longest run of games I’ve had and that’s a massive factor.
“Obviously with age, the experience I have now from the times that have gone, I’m probably a bit calmer. I’m certainly not as athletic as I once was but make up for it with experience and the mind rather than the body.
“I’m not saying I can’t move but definitely there’s a lot of situations I can see in a game and experience definitely helps with that.”
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