PNE defender plans to ‘Soc’ it to England

Bailey Wright celebrates with scorer Paul Gallagher at Wolves
Bailey Wright celebrates with scorer Paul Gallagher at Wolves
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Preston North End’s adopted Aussie Bailey Wright is hoping the bragging rights will remain his later this year.

The central defender is currently focused on North End’s late push for a Championship play-off place with the visit of Queens Park Rangers to Deepdale this weekend firmly in his mind.

But he also has one eye on the summer – and a mouth-watering international friendly fixture between Australia and England.

Wright is almost certain to be in the Socceroos squad for the clash against the Three Lions, which is due to take place at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light on Friday, May 27.

The Melbourne-born star well remembers the last time the two countries met in 2003, when Australia defeated England 3-1 at West Ham’s Upton Park.

The match was the first time the Socceroos had beaten England in six attempts and was also notable by the fact that Sven-Goran Eriksson handed Wayne Rooney his international debut at the tender age of 17.

Wright was just an impressionable schoolboy in 2003, but will be hoping to be in the starting line-up when the two countries meet once more.

“We’ve got a game against England in May to look forward to at the Stadium of Light,” Wright said.

“Hopefully I will be part of that and it should be a good experience.

“The last time Australia played England, we won.

“It was actually Rooney‘s debut for England.

“It’s funny because any time anyone over here gives me any stick about being an Aussie, I always say, ‘Ah well, you’re only as good as your last game and the last game we played against each other, we won’!”

After establishing himself in the North End first-team squad from 2012 onwards, Wright impressed Aussie coach Ange Postecoglou sufficiently to win a place as an uncapped member of Australia’s World Cup squad in 2014.

Although he failed to figure in any of their games in Brazil, he has since made his international bow and now has eight caps to his name.

He is set to feature in two vital 2018 World Cup qualifiers later this month.

The Socceroos are heading towards the final stages of their first qualifying round.

They currently top their group and know that wins over Tajikistan on Thursday, March 24, at the Adelaide Oval and Jordan at the Allianz Stadium, in Sydney, the following Tuesday, will see them book their place in the next round of qualifying.

The fixture against Jordan could be particularly interesting as they are just two points behind the Aussies and enjoyed a 2-0 victory in the reverse fixture in October.

“We have got two World Cup qualifiers coming up in a few weeks’ time, both of them back in Australia,” said Wright.

“Both are important ones because they are the last two games of the first part of our qualifying campaign.

“If we win these two then we’ll finish top of the group and will move through to the next qualifying stages.

“It’s a nice opportunity for me to play again on home soil and hopefully, we will get the right result.”