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I went to Bangladesh with the Socceroos this week

I went to Bangladesh with the Socceroos this week

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The atrocities which took place in Paris last Friday night certainly gave myself and my Socceroos team-mates food for thought as we prepared for our World Cup qualifier in Bangladesh earlier this week.

What happened in the French capital has obviously horrified the world and it certainly raised a few extra safety concerns among us as we headed to Asia.

To be honest, before the events of Paris took place, we already knew that there were security concerns about going to a place like Bangladesh.

The Australian authorities of course had measures in place to make sure we stayed safe.

But I suppose what happened in Paris put a few more thoughts and worries, not necessarily in the players’ minds, but our families’ minds.

They were concerned about us going, but we knew that the people who were looking after our security were the best, so we did have peace of mind whereas our families probably did not.

There are troubles in Bangladesh and certain things are going on out there – perhaps not every day but quite frequently, which you probably don’t hear about over in the UK.

The country is at a heightened risk of terrorism and it is quite scary when you hear some of the stuff which has happened.

Our preparations were very thorough. We decided not to stay too long in the country.

The two days prior to the game, we stayed in Singapore and then we flew into Bangladesh the night before the game.

As soon as the game was finished, we headed straight to the airport and flew out. It was a bit of an in-and-out job.

There was certainly an eerie feeling once we had landed on Bangladeshi soil.

I remember when we were on the bus travelling to the hotel, we were all a bit unsure as to what to expect.

But I can say it was the most secure I have ever felt for any game I have played in and once you cross that white line, you concentrate on the game and don’t really think about anything else.

Unfortunately, events like what happened in Paris take place in the world now 
and it’s really terrible to see – hopefully one day it will eventually stop.

I suppose there is a little bit of relief that we are now home and safe – and back with our clubs.

To be honest, the locals in Bangladesh were really great with us and gave us a warm welcome.

They made sure we were well taken care of and there was a great turnout in the stadium to watch the match.

It turned out to be an enjoyable trip, especially as we managed to get the job done and win the game comfortably 4-0 thanks, in the main, to Tim Cahill’s fine hat-trick.

The victory, coupled with our 3-0 success over Kyrgyzstan in Canberra last week, means we have now gone top of our qualifying group.

It’s nice to be top and we know that if we win our last 
two games, we will go through to the final Asian qualifying stage.

Teams which reach that stage will be split up into two groups and it will be the top two of each group who will qualify for the World Cup in Russia in 2018.

Away from all the off-the-field issues about our trip to Bangladesh, one particular pleasing aspect for me – apart from the win – was the clean sheet we kept.

It is the eighth successive game which I have played in, that we have not conceded a goal.

Before I met up with the Socceroos, I played in a Preston defence which has kept six consecutive cleans sheets. That has helped us pick up a couple of wins and move us up the Championship table.

I don’t think I have ever kept this many clean sheets, but as a defender that is what you take great pride in.

A lot of people have made a big point about the fact that our defence has had a bit of makeshift look to it for the majority of the past six games.

Calum Woods and Greg Cunningham – who usually play at full-back – have slotted alongside me in the centre-half positions.

They have done really well and to be honest, people say it’s a makeshift defence, but we train together every day and we know each other’s games.

For me, I am really enjoying the Championship.

I love testing myself against better players and better teams – it’s great playing in front of bigger crowds and in better stadiums.

Having worked so hard to win promotion from League One, I want to make the most of this chance and really establish myself at this level.

All of the other players are the same and they know that they have to step up their games to be able to compete at this level.

We found it difficult at the start, but we are adapting quickly and we are trying to get better every week.

This weekend we have got a huge derby clash against Blackburn at Deepdale and it’s one I am really looking forward to.

Having been at the club, for more than six years now, I feel like a bit of a local lad and I understand how important the derby game is to the supporters.

The two clubs have not played for a while so it’s going to be eagerly anticipated by both sets of fans and hopefully we can get the three points.

Despite all the travelling I have done recently, I am over the jet leg and ready and raring to go.