Rudan lobbies for Wanderers duo to get Socceroos call up

Western Sydney boss Marko Rudan has expressed his surprise that Calem Nieuwenhof and Lawrence Thomas were overlooked by Socceroos boss Graham Arnold for his most recent squad.

Arnold’s men face Ecuador in the first of two friendlies next Friday with Brandon Borrello the only Wanderers player given the call-up by the Australia manager.

Rudan has made a point of not buying into the discussion when his players – primarily Borrello – have been linked with national team selection.

But after the Wanderers’ 4-0 A-League Men demolition of arch-rivals Sydney FC on Saturday, he broke from tradition and claimed it wouldn’t be long until Borrello was joined by Nieuwenhof and Thomas.

Nieuwenhof, who was released by Sydney over the off-season, came back to haunt his old club, orchestrating the midfield and unleashing a 25-yard screamer for his side’s third goal.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 18: Calem Nieuwenhof of the Wanderers shoots and scores a goal during the round 21 A-League Men’s match between Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers at Allianz Stadium, on March 18, 2023, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jeremy Ng/Getty Images)

Goalkeeper Thomas pulled off some crucial saves for the Wanderers to register a league-high ninth clean sheet of the season.

“I think Calem Nieuwenhof isn’t far away, I really believe that he needs to be in the discussion,” Rudan said after masterminding the Wanderers’ biggest-ever win over Sydney FC.

“And I don’t understand why Lawrence Thomas is not in the Socceroos (squad).

“He is by far and away the best goalkeeper in the league and I mean by far and away.

“I didn’t hear from Arnie when Brandon got called up.

“So I’m not sure why we didn’t have that conversation.

“But I’d like to put on record that there are more in this team that deserve to be called up as well.”

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 18: Calem Nieuwenhof of the Wanderers celebrates kicking a goal with team mates during the round 21 A-League Men’s match between Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers at Allianz Stadium, on March 18, 2023, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Thomas and Nieuwenhof have been key pillars in Rudan’s rebuild of the Wanderers as the club nears its first finals campaign in six years.

The Wanderers sat third after Saturday’s win and only a calamitous slip-up would deny them a top-six finish.

“I’m very confident with my players, belief is very important,” Rudan said.

“We’re very demanding of each other and that’s why it’s working.

“It’s really nice when they start to see it all come together and start to believe.”