HE doesn’t always get the attention of some of his Socceroos teammates.
But Massimo Luongo is quietly going about his business at Championship club Queens Park Rangers — and is enjoying arguably his best season yet.
The Socceroo is best known for his weaving, mazy runs for the Australian national team, but at club level, he’s making his mark as an uncompromising midfielder who doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty.
In fact, Luongo is leading all comers for tackles in the competition, recording 115 for the season — 14 more than his nearest challenger. Fellow Australian James Meredith (Millwall) is sixth, with 89 tackles to his name.
On Saturday, QPR had a dire day out, copping a 5-2 loss to Nottingham Forest at home.
Luongo’s performance was a rare highlight, with the midfielder scoring one of his team’s two goals.
Get West London’s Mark Ritson gave Luongo a 6/10 for his efforts.
“Grabbed a goal back to make it 3-1 from close range. 6,” he wrote.
It was his 100th appearance for the club.
Manager Ian Holloway was left seething after the loss.
“I don’t think I’ve been as upset and angry since I’ve been back here,” he told the club’s website.
“I’m gutted for the supporters because they deserve better. I’ve just watched the goals back and we’ve still got a lot of work to do.
“I didn’t expect us to not get tight to people and continue what we’ve been doing very, very well. Right from the off, we didn’t look right.
“I felt there was a hesitation about our play, which I haven’t seen before and I didn’t expect to see.”
ROOS IN THE UK
Mat Ryan played a full game for Brighton & Hove Albion in the Premier League, with the Seagull defeating Swansea City 4-1.
Earlier in the week, Mile Jedinak’s Aston Villa continued their recent form slump in the Championship, dropping points to Preston North End in a 1-1 decision.
The Socceroos skipper said he expected his team to bounce back.
“I think it was a good point in the end against Preston. We started slow but came out second half and showed a little bit more what we are about,” he told the club’s website.
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“We got the point and could have perhaps had all three at the end with Keinan Davis’ chance.
“But all things considered, we take the point and look to build again on Saturday and recapture our form of the last few months.
“Spirits remain high in camp. It’s never nice when winning runs come to an end but it’s up to us how we bounce back and perform for the rest of the season now.”
To their credit, Villa did bounce back, beating Sheffield Wednesday 4-2, with Jedinak coming off the bench.
Meanwhile, Jackson Irvine played a full game for Hull City, assisting the goal in a 1-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday.
Tim Cahill came off the bench in the 79th minute as Millwall beat Burton Albion 1-0, with James Meredith playing the full game.
Jamie Maclaren was substituted off as Hibernian drew 2-2 with Kilmarnock.
The Australian has yet to score his second goal for the Scottish club, but continues to look lively and
“Maclaren … is smaller, quicker, more elusive. From early showings he likes darting into the channels,” Fowler wrote.
“Though fans would like to have seen a greater goal return from the chances he’s had thus far – netting only a penalty in his two games despite several other opportunities – at least he’s getting into good areas and should start putting them away with greater regularity once he gets himself into a rhythm.
“There have been so many occasions through the 2017/18 season where Hibs have failed to find victory despite outplaying their opposition.
“A lack of ruthlessness and failure to finish the game off was often the problem. Finally, it looks like they’ve solved that issue.”
Tom Rogic played 72 minutes in Celtic’s 2-0 win over Aberdeen, while Ryan Edwards played a full match for Partick Thistle, who lost to Hamilton Academical 2-1.
CUP CANDIDATE IN SERIOUS DOUBT
Socceroos and Bradford City defender Ryan McGowan is in serious doubt for next month’s international friendlies after undergoing knee surgery.
McGowan took to social media to confirm the news of his successful surgery,
The defender’s return date is unknown, and its unclear whether he’ll be fit for the Socceroos’ March clashes with Norway and Colombia.
McGowan joined joined Braford for free in February, and is capped 20 times for Australia, the last of which came against Chile in the Confederations Cup last year.
ROOS IN EUROPE
In the German Bundesliga, Mat Leckie returned to the starting line-up for Hertha Berlin, playing a full game as they drew 0-0 with Bayern Munich.
Brandon Borrello continued his fine run of form for FC Kaiserslautern, scoring the opening goal as his side beat SV Darmstadt 98 — Jamie Maclaren’s club — 2-1.
In the Dutch Eredivisie, Feyenoord’s Brad Jones — recently pumped up by Bart van Marwijk — suffered a 3-1 loss to PSV Eindhoven.
Fellow goalkeeper Mark Birighitti was on the bench as NAC Breda drew 1-1 with Groningen, with Ajdin Hrustic coming off the bench in the 58th minute.
Young full back Alex Gersbach continues to play 90 minutes for French Ligue 2 side RC Lens, with his team losing to Clermont 1-0.
Meanwhile, Socceroos regular Aziz Behich played the full game as Bursaspor was thrashed 5-0 by Galatasaray in the Turkish Super Lig.
COLLECTIVE OF AUSSIES BUSY IN JAPAN, ANGE’S DEBUT
GOALKEEPER Mitch Langerak has desperately needed gametime as he looks to secure a spot at the World Cup.
Now — after tough stints in Germany and Spain — it looks like he’s got that.
The goalkeeper played a full game for Ngoya Grampus, who beat Gamba Osaka 3-1 in the Japanese J1 League.
Socceroos regular Milos Degenek played a full game for Ange Postecoglou’s Yokohama F.Marinos, who drew 1-1 with Cerezo Osaka.
Postecoglou, who named the Aussie in a 4-3-3 formation, said he “disappointed”- given the side surrendered a lead, but he liked what he saw.
Meanwhile, forgotten midfielder Ben Halloran played 45 minutes for V-Varen Nagasaki, who lost to Shonan Bellmare 2-1.
Halloran has made it clear he hopes to return to the Socceroos fold ahead of the World Cup.
Despite a steady run of game time across his five seasons in Germany’s second division, Halloran hasn’t been picked for international duty since September 2015.
“I don’t really know (why), to be honest,” Halloran told AAP.
“I think it must have been a case that Ange just didn’t really rate me.
“I feel like my performances warranted selection after the World Cup but I didn’t really hear anything at all.
“I never received one phone call after (my last camp). I did think it was a little odd.”
The move to Japan gives Halloran the next three months to mount what would need to be an irresistible case to new coach Bert van Marwijk.
If not, the 25-year-old admitted it’d be difficult simply watching the Socceroos in a World Cup, having played at one in a “surreal” start to his international career.
“I wasn’t really on the radar and then I just had a killer run of form and suddenly I was in Brazil playing in a World Cup,” he said.
“I think I was just riding a wave at that point.
“I just haven’t been involved for so long, I’m just so far removed from it now. But it’d be great to be on that flight.”
Fellow Australian Mitch Duke came off the bench for Shimizu S-Pulse, who drew 0-0 with Kashima Antlers.
— With AAP