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Socceroos star spurns Greece games for 'Cockney' baby's birth


Massimo Luongo will miss the Socceroos’ double header against Greece next month with the 23-year-old midfielder’s wife due to give birth to the couple’s first child.

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Luongo will be part of the squad for the England game at Sunderland on May 27 (4.15am the following morning, Adelaide time) but he’ll head straight back to London when the rest of the team return to Australia for the two friendlies against the former European champions on June 4 in Sydney and June 7 in Melbourne.

“I hate missing games but it’s too soon to the baby being born for me to travel to Australia and I wouldn’t have time to get back if my wife was to go into labour,” Luongo said.

“But like everyone else I am very excited about facing England.

“It’s 13 years since the last time we played them so it really is probably a once-in-a-career opportunity.

“Although it’s only a friendly and they’ll have one eye on the Euros, any match between England and Australia, whether it be rugby or cricket, is always competitive because of the great rivalry between the two countries.”

The Sydneysider is well settled in London despite an up and down first season at QPR and is said he is resigned to his new son or daughter being a ‘Cockney’ baby.

Luongo has worked under three managers since his move to Loftus Road last June, but is now a regular in Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s team after being out of the side for almost two months between November and January.

A groin problem sidelined him for last Monday’s loss to Burnley and he is racing to be fit for Saturday’s final match of the season against Bristol City.

However, he believes he’s put his early difficulties behind him and is relishing next season for both club and country with the Socceroos kicking off the final qualifying stage for a third successive World Cup appearance against Iraq in September.

“It’s been eventful and I wouldn’t say it has gone smoothly my first season here,” Luongo said.

“There’s been two changes of managers, a lot of players coming in and out and I hadn’t really experienced that before in my career.”

After Chris Ramsey was sacked last November, interim manager Neil Warnock overlooked Luongo during his five games in charge and it took time to convince Hasselbaink he was suited to the intensity of the Championship and this subsequently led to him inquiring about a possible move out on loan.

“It was a really hard period for me. I spoke to the manager and he basically just said I needed to work on the defensive side of my game before he could trust me to play central midfield,” he said.

“It was fair enough, because at Swindon I was never asked to defend as we played all-out attack and relied on me, the wingbacks and the strikers to win games.

“With Australia I play a more advanced role as well so I’ve really had to work on that other side of my game.

“When I wasn’t playing I made sure in training I played the small-sided games with real intensity. I then got my chance and I think I’m now a more complete midfielder.

“I just need to get my first QPR goal now.”


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