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Aussies set to step up for EPL kick-off

Soccer

As the Premier League celebrates its 25th anniversary season there will be an increased Australian flavour with four Socceroos now dining at the top table of English football.

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With Aaron Mooy helping Huddersfield to promotion and Mat Ryan signing for fellow new boys Brighton, two of Australia’s biggest names can expect to feature regularly in the most-watched league in the world.

But it’s a far cry from a decade ago when Harry Kewell, Mark Viduka, Mark Schwarzer and Tim Cahill were among the 10 Australian World Cup stars playing week in, week out in the EPL.

Last year Bournemouth’s Brad Smith and Adam Federici made only seven appearances between them and neither are likely to feature for the Cherries’ opener at West Brom.

Ryan and Mooy were both record signings this off-season and are expected to play a significant roles in what are certain to be seasons of struggle for their clubs.

Huddersfield meet Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Saturday before Brighton host a potent Manchester City team.

The Terriers are the bookies’ favourites for relegation with Brighton only trailing Burnley in the survival market.

Both clubs are managed by astute coaches in Chris Hughton and David Wagner but the Brighton boss knows his side face a huge test in their first season back in the top flight since 1983.

“You know wins against (Manchester) United and Arsenal and Chelsea are very difficult to come by,” Hughton said.

“It doesn’t mean you can’t deal with them but the law of averages say the way you are going to stay in the Premier League is by winning the games against the teams that are around you.”

Ryan was fully backed by his teammates after his awful error that led to a goal on his home debut in last week’s trial match against Atletico Madrid.

The former Central Coast Mariner allowed a tame shot squirm under his body and into the net but Brighton skipper Steve Sidwell backed Ryan to come good.

“He is very strong mentally. He was disappointed, it being his first home game,” Sidwell said.

“But it’s better to get those mistakes out of the way now than when the season starts.

“I thought in the first half he was brilliant and made a load of good saves.”

Mooy was voted Huddersfield’s player of the year last season and Wagner believes he can repeat his Championship form in the Premier League.

“You don’t often find a player who is so comfortable on the ball and has such a great fighting attitude,” Wagner said.

It’s also the start of the season in Germany where Mathew Leckie and Mitch Langerak are set to feature in the first round of the German Cup.

With the Bundesliga season kicking off next week, Langerak’s Stuttgart face third-tier side Energie Cottbus while Leckie’s Hertha Berlin meet Hansa Rostock.

-AAP

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