First Manchester City, now Socceroos in uncapped Elder’s sights

Australian defender Callum Elder is targeting a Socceroos FIFA World Cup spot after helping Wigan Athletic wreck Manchester City’s quadruple hopes.

Callum Elder

Callum Elder in action for Wigan Athletic Source: Sportimage/PA Images

The uncapped Sydneysider has flown onto Australia coach Bert van Marwijk’s Russia radar during the League One side’s recent FA Cup giant killing spree, culminating in Tuesday’s 1-0 fifth round slaying of Pep Guardiola’s thoroughbreds.

The Latics left-back not only provided the assist for Will Grigg’s 79th-minute winner at the DW Stadium, he also won widespread plaudits for a performance of poise and maturity.

Elder’s exploits sparked a social media buzz back in Australia, and will not have escaped van Marwijk as he formulates his squad for March’s friendlies against Norway and Colombia.

“In terms of the powers that be in Australia, if my name can be in that sort of limelight then hopefully it shows I’m trying to do the right thing,” said Elder.

“I’ll continue to work hard to achieve my goals on that front.

“I’d be lying if I said that I hadn’t thought about it (the Socceroos) but there are a lot of important (club) games to come and I just trust that when the time comes I will be ready.

“Whether that comes in March, or June (at the World Cup) or in the following years, I’m just enjoying my time now.”

A call-up for Elder, on a season long loan from Leicester City, would intensify the battle of the left-backs already raging between Aziz Behich, Alex Gersbach and Brad Smith.

Not to mention the claims of Millwall’s James Meredith.

“It’s a huge ambition of mine to play for the national team,” he said. “I know there’s a lot of hard work to be done and I’m prepared to put that in. I’m just looking forward to seeing what happens in the future.”

The elation of sinking 10-man City is still fresh, with Elder adding: “We were in training yesterday and couldn’t stop talking about the game.

“It was a wonderful night to be involved in ... without doubt the best thing that’s happened in my career so far.

“Going into the game we knew it would be probably the hardest night of our careers, but the manager (Paul Cook) gave us the belief that we could get something out of the tie.

“We thought we could produce something against a world class group of players with a world class manager.

“The boss said we’d have a moment where a chance would come and when it did it was a great finish by Will Grigg.”

Elder claimed the assist, explaining: “I was under pressure to release the ball and sent it into an area we could win something off. I think Kyle Walker let it go and Will latched onto it with a great first touch and an even better finish.”

Having dispatched Bournemouth, West Ham and now City, Elder holds no trepidation for next month’s quarter-final duel with Southampton, the reward being a Wembley semi.

“We’re at home again and we’re going to be full of confidence going into that one,” said Elder.

“But we’ll give them huge respect, and by no means does beating three Premier League sides already mean we’ll necessarily win this one.”

Referring to his quickly growing profile back in Australia, Elder declared: “I think you need to enjoy the big moments when they happen.

“It’s terrific to see this sort of response I received, especially back home because I am an Australian boy and I was a proud Australian on that pitch the other night.”

Wigan are three points off top spot in English football’s third tier with three games in hand on leaders Blackburn going into Sunday’s (ADT) visit of fellow FA Cup adventurers Rochdale.

Relegated last season, the Latics’ - FA Cup final winners against Manchester City in 2013 - top priority is to boomerang straight back to the Championship.

“It’s a hard feeling, you’re on such a high of the FA Cup run but you can’t neglect the league,” said Elder.

“Winning promotion is our most important priority. We have 16 league games left and we want to make all of those count.”

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4 min read
Published 23 February 2018 at 2:27pm
By Dave Lewis