(Reuters) – Attacking midfielder Tom Rogic will have more freedom to express himself in a new-look Australia side and is primed to go up “another level” in the next few years, Socceroos coach Graham Arnold has said.
The 25-year-old Celtic playmaker has enjoyed a fine start in the Scottish top flight this season after being one of Australia’s best performers at the World Cup in Russia.
Following the retirements of forward Tim Cahill and former captain Mile Jedinak, 40-cap Rogic is now one of Australia’s most senior players and is ready to step up, said Arnold.
“Tommy’s an important piece in the team but also for Australian football,” Arnold told reporters in Kuwait City, where the Socceroos will play Kuwait in a friendly later on Monday.
“He’s a player that excites everyone. He does it every week at Celtic. When I watch him every week I’m very proud to have been a part of his career in the past.
“I only see Tommy Rogic going to another level with us over the next four years.
“Tommy will be given more freedom on the field to express himself but also to show his qualities and I know with that freedom we’ll see a different Tommy Rogic.”
Rogic played under Arnold at A-League side Central Coast Mariners for a couple of seasons before crossing to Celtic in 2013, and said he was glad to be reunited with his first professional coach.
“Very much so … I certainly learnt a lot from him,” he said of Graham, who is back for his second shot as Australia coach after an ill-fated stint in 2006-07.
“Fast forward six years and I think it’s safe to say that Graham has learnt a lot and become a better manager along the way, and I feel I’ve become a better player as well.
“So hopefully I’ll be able to learn a lot more from him and most importantly show that to Australia.”
One of Arnold and Rogic’s greatest challenges will be creating goals from a squad that lacks world class forwards and was unable to score from open play in Russia.
Rogic said Arnold was pushing the Socceroos to show more dynamism in the final third.
“It’s very positive and as an attacking player it’s exciting the prospect of what we can achieve,” he said.
“There’s definitely more freedom for all attacking players (and) something I’ve very looking forward to.”
(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Peter Rutherford)