Mitch Langerak and Mat Ryan will not allow their chase to become Australia’s first-choice goalkeeper get in the way of their friendship.
Langerak and Ryan have been given first crack at becoming Mark Schwarzer’s long-term replacement after being selected in new coach Ange Postecoglou’s squad for Tuesday’s friendly against Costa Rica in Sydney.
Borussia Dortmund stand-in Langerak arguably has his nose in front after performing admirably against France and Canada, while Ryan (Club Brugge) is banging down the door with his impressive club form in Belgium.
Postecoglou has put all players on notice that their spots are not guaranteed ahead of his first match at the helm, but the battle of the ‘keepers is arguably his toughest selection.
“Between me and Mat we’re good mates on the field and off the field so it makes it a lot easier when we come into camp,” Langerak said at Socceroos training on Thursday.
“It goes without saying that we both want to be playing and both want to be the number one and things like that.
“But there’s still a long way to go, it makes no sense to have an unhealthy rivalry.
“It’s not going to help the team in the long term and it’s not going to help us in the short term either, so it’s best that we’re good mates and we get on well together and knuckle down and train.
“We can talk as much as we want but ultimately it’s up to the boss and what he decides.”
Ryan added: “Australia’s always been blessed with quality goal keepers and we’d like to think that we can carry on from the benchmark Schwarzy’s set.
“Everyone in football knows there’s such thing as a goalkeepers’ union, we all get on, on and off the pitch, and we just work hard and try and get the best out of one another and at the end of the day hopefully the best man gets the job.”
Eugene Galekovic (Adelaide), Adam Federici (Reading) and Brad Jones (Liverpool) are also in the mix ahead of next year’s World Cup.
Langerak concedes whoever gets the nod in Brazil faces a massive challenge to replace Schwarzer.
“It goes without saying that Schwarzy’s boots are big ones to fill,” Langerak said.
“We know what he’s done over the last 15 years for the national team and if you look at it from afar it’s quite daunting.
“But for us being in the position, we’re training every day, we’re working, we’re at good clubs so we’re right on the pace and once we step into the team and into training we fit in well.
“And I’m sure it won’t take long until both of us and the other goalkeepers make their stamp on the team.”
Ryan added of Schwarzer: “He’s obviously been an icon of the game, he’s set such a high standard in the goal keeping position now for years to come and both Mitch and I are privileged to be in the initial camp after he announced his retirement and have first opportunity to fill his position.”