Australia’s most capped Socceroo, Mark Schwarzer has lauded Mat Ryan’s resilience and has earmarked the national team goal keeper as a key player ahead of the 2018 Russia World Cup.
Ryan was an ever-present figure for newly promoted Brighton and his performance in goal helped the Seagulls finish in 15th place ensuring a second consecutive season in the English Premier League.
After competing with Mitch Langerak for the Socceroos goal keeping spot during Ange Postecoglou’s reign it’s a different story under new coach Bert Van Marwijk
Ahead of the first game against France, Ryan has ensured his starting spot especially as his main competitor Holland based Brad Jones slipped up against Hungary.
Schwarzer told FourFourTwo that along with two of Australia’s midfielders, Ryan looms as a major figure for the Socceroos in Russia.
“First and foremost, Aaron Mooy is a big player for us,” he said.
“It’s vital he is fit, and that he is recharged after a long hard season. Mile Jedinak is still a big player for us I think he is massive and whoever plays in goals which will be Maty Ryan.
“He’s had a very good season the Premier League as has Brad Jones in Holland so those guys are going to play a vital part in the performance of the team, they always do, the spine of the side is always a key.”
Ryan played in every game during the Seagulls memorable debut EPL season. But it started off shakily as early in the season the Socceroos shot stopper’s position came under threat after Brighton signed Netherlands international Tim Krul.
But Schwarzer who amassed over EPL 500 games during his career said Ryan did well to hold on to his spot.
“The first five games in the English Premier league were really tough for him,” he said.
“They were a steep learning curve as early on it didn’t really go to plan.
"He’ll be the first to admit that he conceded goals where he should’ve done better and that some of them he should’ve saved.
“But in the sixth game of the season where Brighton played Newcastle and there was a lot of talk of Matt not playing that game and being dropped, he ended up starting and played really well.
“From that moment on he’s kicked on and he’s gotten better and better and he’s grown in confidence as the season went on.”
Unlike other goal keepers in the English Premier League Ryan 184cm stature did not compare well. His agility and explosive movement off the line were attributes not seen as conducive to the rigours of the English game.
But Schwarzer said the 26 year did well to prove the doubters wrong in the end.
“He’s played really well,” he said. “He’s adapted to the Premer League very well against all the odds really in terms of the physically of the game.
“Maty’s strengths are not necessarily the high ball into the box but I think he’s dealt with it very, very well.
"So, he’s had a very, very good season and one that he’ll look back on fondly. With Brighton staying in the Premier League he’ll be prepared mentally for the World Cup.”