Fowler questions Atkinson’s eligibility following City draw

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Brisbane Roar coach Robbie Fowler has questioned whether Melbourne City midfielder Nathaniel Atkinson was eligible to play in the A-League due to his ban from Olyroos selection for an off-field incident in Cambodia last year.

Atkinson scored a second-half equaliser to make it 2-2, his first goal in 42 appearances in the A-League, in the 48th minute to secure a point for City after Brad Inman’s brace had put Brisbane ahead at the break.

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When asked in the post-match press conference whether Atkinson should be playing while the Olyroos contest the AFC U/23 Championship in Thailand, Fowler compared the situation to Aiden O’Neill’s forced omission when the two sides met in round six.

“We had the same incident with one of our players,” Fowler said.

“We’ve been in that situation, we obviously couldn’t play our player, and if that’s the case then I think it needs looking at.

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“That needs addressing to be fair, that’s not right.”

Fowler previously criticised the league’s eligibility rules following Brisbane’s 4-3 win and said it was not fair O’Neill could not play while those involved in the Olyroos controversy remained available for selection.

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“We’ve seen a few players playing in the A-League this weekend that shouldn’t have been playing,” Fowler said at the time of O’Neill’s omission.

Speaking of his side’s performance Fowler said the Roar may not have deserved to win following City’s dominance in possession but he was proud of the effort his team displayed.

“I can’t fault our lads for effort, I thought we were outstanding in terms of what we put into the game and it’s a good point against a very good team,” he said.

“In terms of possession that was probably not one of our better games but we’ve not lost the game so there’s plenty of positives out of it.

“Did we deserve to win? Probably not, but we’d (take this result) all day long.”

Fowler also commended Inman on his turnaround in form following his return to the Roar starting side and said he would continue to push the Roar midfielder to believe in himself.

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“I think when you’ve got players who probably can get a little more out of them, you’ve got to sort of treat them a little bit mean,” Fowler said.

“I think his performance, certainly in the last three games has been excellent.”

Just as the Roar are beginning to find their goalscoring form there will be headaches in defence for Fowler during next Saturday’s home game against the Wellington Phoenix due to two key players missing.

Captain Tom Aldred will miss the game through suspension after receiving a fifth yellow card against City, while fellow defender Scott Neville was subbed off with a shin injury in the 25th minute.

While Fowler said he did not expect Neville’s injury to be serious but the Roar medical staff will keep a close eye on it the next few days to gauge whether he will be available for selection.

Feature image credit: Brisbane Roar FC

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Mathew Perry
Former snowmaker, TomTom salesman and subpar barista giving sports journalism a whirl. QUT Journalism student covering Brisbane Roar FC in the A-League and W-League.