Adrian Leijer may be loaned out by English Premier League club Fulham for the remainder of the season.
Fulham is considering releasing Leijer to League One club Leeds United, or he could even be headed to a London-based Championship club in an attempt to gain regular match time.
The 21-year-old is desperate to play regular soccer to ensure his selection in the Olyroos’ team for this year’s Beijing Games.
However, his hopes of a move have been put on hold for at least a week with new Fulham manager Roy Hodgson insisting that he wants to have a closer look at last year’s A-League Young Player of the Year before letting him go anywhere.
Leijer’s manager Tom Brookes told the Geelong Advertiser yesterday that Hodgson had already been impressed with what he had seen of Leijer.
“The only question over the immediate term is whether Adrian would benefit more from playing competitive football every week in the Championship and if this would be more advantageous for his development than being on the fringe in the Premiership set up,” Brookes said.
“Adrian is very happy at Fulham and is excited at the prospect of working with such a highly experienced and regarded coach as Roy Hodgson.
“He is settled in south west London with his girlfriend and very much feels part of the club. Roy and the backroom staff at Fulham hold Adrian in high regard and see him as an integral part of their plans.”
Leijer moved from Melbourne Victory to Fulham after signing a three-year deal last August.
But, he is yet to get a taste of Premier League action in a side that is in danger of being relegated next season.
Leijer has sat on the bench as an unused sub in several games, despite impressing as captain of the reserves team.
Leijer said he knows that he needs to be playing regularly to press his claims for selection in the Olyroos’ team.
“That hasn’t happened yet at Fulham,” Leijer said.
“It’s not a matter of me wanting to leave Fulham. I have a three-year contract and I want to be a success there.
`But, with the Olympics coming up I want to give myself every chance of being selected. We’ve got an excellent squad and I believe we are genuine contenders.
“I really want to be a part of it and going out on loan could help me achieve that.”
Brookes was adamant that Leijer had made the right move in signing with Fulham, despite criticism that it was not the best move for his career.
“They don’t often appreciate that despite not playing immediately after they arrive, players benefit enormously from training each day at a much higher intensity with quality players at the best facilities and it can sometimes take a few months to adapt and settle into their new club and home,” Leijer’s manager said.
“Adrian is loving the increase in tempo from the A-League and is learning all the time. But he is hungry, driven, incredibly dedicated and obviously wants to be playing competitively as soon as possible.
“The most important consideration is what is best for Adrian’s development and after a few short months at the club, Adrian already feels that he is benefiting from his move. The next stage in his development will be competitive game time.”
Brookes said Hodgson realises just how important representing Australia at the Olympics is to Leijer.
“Adrian certainly has the coach’s blessing to participate in the Olympics later this year,” he said.
“As a former national coach (of Switzerland), he believes the Olympics will be a great experience for him.”