THE dream of representing his country is within the grasp of former Bathurst junior Rhyan Grant after being named in the Socceroos extended 30-man squad on Wednesday.
Thanks to his stellar season with A-League frontrunners Sydney FC Grant is a chance of wearing the green and gold for the nation side’s upcoming FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Iraq and the UAE.
The squad will be trimmed down to 23 after this weekend’s A-League fixtures.
Grant, 26, was just thrilled just to be named in the extended squad.
“I was pretty surprised but so stoked about it. It something you always dream of achieving,” he said.
“I really didn’t see it coming, but when you’re playing well in the A-League then anything is possible.
“Just to be a part of this 30-man squad is amazing. If I don’t go any further I shouldn’t be disappointed. Being around players of that calibre is amazing.
While Grant might be surprised by his selection, his A-League statistics from this season show exactly why Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou had him in the selection frame.
Grant has made 81 interceptions and been successful in 75 per cent of his tackle attempts.
Not only has he troubled opposition attackers but Grant has picked up five assists and two goals along the way.
All of those impressive statistics have added up to a season of 16 wins from 22 games for Sydney FC, and an almost certain Premiers Plate in just over a month’s time.
It’s been a superb comeback for the former Bathurst junior since rupturing his ACL in the third round of the 2013-14 season.
The 2016-17 was going to be a chance for Grant to get some consistency back to his game but now it’s delivered so much more.
“All I wanted from this year was some consistency. After the year away with my injury my aim was to get back on track … but this is a great way to top off what has already been a great season,” he said.
“It’s a bit daunting. You’d run around when you were little, kicking goals and thinking you’re a world beater. When you grow older that dream of playing for your country starts to feel a little more distant – at least for me it did – so to be named even in the 30-man squad is special.”
Grant is one of seven uncapped players in the 30-man squad along with Riley McGree, Awer Mabil, Jimmy Jeggo, Ryan Edwards and Mustafa Amini and Danny Vukovic.
The naming of veteran goalkeeper and Sydney FC teammate Vukovic delighted Grant.
“I’m so excited for Vuka. He’s been around for a while now and after everything he’s been through with his son it’s a great thing for him,” he said, referencing Vukovic’s son, Harley, who was diagnosed with Biliary atresia as a baby.
“He’s a really good guy and a great player.”
James Troisi is back in the squad for the first time since 2015 while Brisbane captain Matt McKay has been recalled, along with Perth defender Rhys Williams.
Socceroos – who are currently third in their qualifying group with five games to play – will travel to face Iraq on March 23 before returning home to face the UAE on March 28 in Sydney.