PNE star Wright scores on Aussie debut

Bailey Wright
Bailey Wright
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Preston North End centre-half Bailey Wright got his international career off to a flying start as he scored for Australia in London last night.

The 22-year-old found the net in the Socceroos’ 3-2 win over Saudi Arabia at Fulham’s Craven Cottage.

He played the full game, scoring the third goal in the 77th minute with a close-range finish.

Australia raced into a 2-0 lead inside six minutes through Tim Cahill and Crystal Palace midfielder Miles Jedinak.

Saudi Arabia pulled a goal back in the 71st minute before Wright struck soon after.

His side needed that strike as the Saudis netted again six minutes from time.

Wright had to show a degree of patience before being handed his national bow.

He was in Australia’s World Cup squad but got no further than the bench in Brazil.

Last week for their friendly against Belgium, Wright was again an unused substitute in a 2-0 defeat.

Wright played as their left-sided centre-back last night, the position he fills for PNE.

Aussie coach Ange Postecoglou said: “Bailey’s been in the squad for a little while now but hadn’t been able to get a run. This was a good opportunity for us to give him a chance at this level and see how he coped with it.

“He’s done everything right, in training during the World Cup and in this camp.”

Wright’s inclusion in the World Cup squad was a huge surprise as he had not played internationally since Under-17s level.

He survived two cuts of the squad to go to Brazil as defensive cover.

Winning a full cap is a fine achievement for a player who made his PNE debut a little over four years ago and only became a regular towards the end of the 2011/12 campaign.

And just two summers ago that he was put on the transfer list, only to be taken off it shortly afterwards.

Meanwhile, Deepdale coach John Dreyer thinks the current international break has been beneficial on a number of fronts to North End.

The players have combined training with a few days off, and the PNE coaching staff took the opportunity at the weekend to run the rule over future opposition.

Dreyer said: “We were able to assess the players’ fitness and do some work with that.

“They got a bit of time off too with not having a game at the weekend.

“The management took the opportunity to go and watch some of the teams which we are going to be playing.”

Preston return to action on Saturday against Walsall at the Bescot Stadium.

They remain unbeaten in the league, although have drawn three of their five games.

“If there are lessons to be learned from last season it is that we need to win more matches and draw less,” said Dreyer.

“We have drawn a few games to start with but it has been a solid enough start.

“It can take six, seven or eight games for a side to find their feet, their real fitness and a formation which is going to be right for them.”