Get to know the new boys


There have been whispers throughout the off-season that some people believe the NRMA Insurance Western Sydney Wanderers will struggle in their second Hyundai A-League season as opposition teams cotton on to their style of football.

There have been whispers throughout the off-season that some people believe the NRMA Insurance Western Sydney Wanderers will struggle in their second Hyundai A-League season as opposition teams cotton on to their style of football.

But the additions of three players who have represented the Socceroos and a former Sydney FC star have steeled the Wanderers to potentially become an even stronger unit.

The signings of former Socceroo defenders Matthew Spiranovic and Dean Heffernan has added stability and depth to an already potent backline.

Recently capped at national level, Tomi Juric will lead the line for the Wanderers in place of his predecessor Dino Kresinger while Brendon Santalab will provide another option in the front third.

After scoring on his Wanderers debut in Round 1 against Central Coast, 22 year-old Juric is charged with the responsibility of scoring regularly for the Wanderers – something they missed last season.

Raised in Western Sydney and with Croatian heritage, Juric spent five years plying his trade in the Croatian domestic competition before linking up with Adelaide United late last season.

After inking a two-year deal with the Wanderers in May 2013, Juric was called up to the Socceroos squad for the East Asian Cup scoring a goal in Australia-s 3-2 loss to Japan.

The 189cm centre forward will provide a real target for his Wanderers team mates but is also blessed with great movement for a player of his size.

An out-and-out goal scorer, he holds the ball up extremely well and his positioning inside the box will make him a nightmare for opposition defences.

Although only young Juric has drawn early comparisons to Socceroos legend Mark Viduka for his ability to use his body and bring team mates around him into the game.

After earning a taste of international football a big year for Juric with the Wanderers could see him book a ticket on the plane to next year-s World Cup in Brazil.

The signing of 25 year-old defender Matthew Spiranovic is a massive coup for the Wanderers as he looks to force his way back into the Socceroos squad for Brazil 2014.

The Wanderers conceded the fewest goals in the league last season with just 21 goals in 27 matches and the addition of Spiranovic will again ensure the team is difficult to break down.

Born in Geelong, Spiranovic has represented the Socceroos on 16 occasions, the last of which came in a 2012 World Cup qualifier against Iraq.

Spiranovic burst onto the Australian football scene after signing with German Bundesliga club Nurnberg in 2006, making his first team debut as an 18 year-old.

He spent six seasons in Germany before signing a one year deal with Japanese powerhouse Urawa Red Diamonds in 2011 after a loan stint with the club earlier in 2010.

His experience playing overseas is invaluable for the younger players at the Wanderers and provides excellent competition for places amongst the squad, especially in the back half.

A naturally graceful and composed player, Spiranovic is calm when on the ball and will provide great distribution when playing out from the back.

Given his towering frame Spiranovic is extremely strong aerially which provides a great asset repelling opposition threats but will also make him dangerous at set pieces for the Wanderers.

Although it appears Nikolai Topor Stanley and Michael Beauchamp are Popovic-s preferred central defensive pairing, Spiranovic will be breathing down their necks waiting for an opportunity.

Former Sydney FC star Brendon Santalab has returned to the A-League with the Wanderers after spending five years in China with Chengdu Blades and Chongqing Lifan.

Santalab lit up the league with the Sky Blues from 2007-2009 scoring some cracking goals including a long range stunner against Adelaide in 2007 which earned him the goal of the season.

He also netted a sublime half-volley in Sydney-s amazing 5-4 victory over Central Coast in 2008 which is widely regarded as the best game ever to be played in the A-League.

The 31 year-old former Parramatta Power and Sydney United striker is a proven goal scorer after netting 33 goals in 75 appearances in China, nearly a goal every two games.

Santalab is quick and makes intelligent runs off the ball which will add another dimension to the Wanderers attacking third; either starting or coming off the bench as a super sub.

He is likely to form a partnership with Tomi Juric up front but will face stiff competition from the hard working Labinot Haliti in order to secure a spot.

His ability to score long range and spectacular goals will no doubt endear him to the Wanderers faithful.

The signing of Dean Heffernan is the final piece of the jigsaw for the Wanderers as they look to maintain their consistency from last season.

Heffernan is one of the most experienced players in the A-League having played in three grand finals (two with Central Coast, one with Perth Glory) and made more than 100 appearances.

He has previously played for the Mariners, Perth and Melbourne Heart in the A-League and has represented the Socceroos on two occasions.

Heffernan is an extremely versatile player who can fill a number of roles across midfield and defence, although he was deployed as a striker in Perth-s semi final last season.

His signing provides even more depth to an extremely talented squad and is a reliable option at Tony Popovic-s disposal if required.

His consistency and tireless work rate are key attributes and if the Wanderers are struck down with injuries Heffernan is a more than capable replacement for a number of positions.