When the Socceroos defeated Honduras just a few short weeks ago nine of the starting eleven had debuted in national colours as an active member or product of an A-League club.

Only seven of the entire twenty-five man squad during the final qualification window were not products of an A-League side.

In 2013 when Josh Kennedy sealed Australia’s place in Brazil with a winner against Iraq a total of twelve of twenty-three squad members had come through the A-League system.

Mark Milligan and David Carney were the sole domestically based representatives in Doha, 2009 when a goalless draw assured the green and gold would be in South Africa for the 2010 World Cup.

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Pim Verbeek was the Socceroos manager at that stage and bluntly looked upon the quality of the A-League with criticism stating that the league was not of the calibre needed for Australian players to jump into the international arena.

“If you train for three weeks with Nurnberg or with Karlsruhe, I have to be very honest, I still think that’s better than playing A-League games,” he said in 2008.

During Verbeek’s tenure a number of A-League players were handed their debuts including current captain Mile Jedinak, most of these new men would only pull on the jersey a handful of times after failing to impress the Dutch coach during Asian Cup qualifiers in 2009.

To greater understand the influence of the domestic league for the national side, statistics of A-League products breaking into the national side were compiled via the following:

  • Made national side debut whilst an A-League player.
  • National side cap following 20+ appearances for an A-League club.
  • Statistics only cover from the inception of the league in 2005.
  • Certain players have been recorded as products of two clubs (eg. Robbie Kruse, Sasa Ognenovski, Jamie Maclaren).
  • New Zealanders have been included.
  • Data in Image 1 is the total number of players per club debuting for Australia (and NZ, all from Phoenix).
  • Data in Image 2 is year by year record of players used to compile the statistics.
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From the findings above the extent of national side player development across all clubs is generally evenly spread bar Western Sydney and Melbourne City (formerly Heart), two of the most recent additions to the league.

Perhaps the most significant statistic following discovered from the analysis is the dropoff of A-League players forcing their way into the Socceroos set-up since 2015.

Numerous uncapped players such as Riley McGree and Awer Mabil have been members of recent Socceroos squads but are yet to taste international action.

This common case has perhaps skewed the statistics of newly capped players during a frenetic last few years for the national side with Confederations Cup, Asian Cup and World Cup qualification fixtures all taking place since 2015.

Those Australian players who have cemented their place in the national side have however noted the rising quality of the A-League with every passing season.

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Current Socceroo Robbie Kruse was one advocate of the league in a 2016 interview noting the progression of the competition since departing for Europe.

“Quality-wise the league has grown massively. I left five years ago and the quality of players here now is really good,” he said.

“There’s a lot of possession-based, good quality football and good goals. It’s exciting stuff.”

The shock resignation of now ex-national coach Ange Postecoglou just a week ago has also left plenty of opportunities for Australian players to stake a claim for World Cup selection before the final squad jets to Russia next year.

Risks are so rarely taken so close to a World Cup but this may just be the time for domestically based players to barge down the doors of the national set-up through domestic performances to impress an impending new coach and continue the long line of Socceroos debuting from A-League clubs.

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Josh is a student journalist at the University of Queensland currently covering Brisbane Roar's 17/18 season.