Brisbane’s Luke Brattan was singled out for praise by Liverpool FC manager Brendan Rodgers last week but the talented holding midfielder is keeping his feet firmly on the ground as the Roar continue their pre-season preparations.
And rather than bask in the accolade from the Reds boss, the 25-year-old has accepted a challenge from his own boss, John Aloisi, to take his game to a new level this season.
Rodgers noted Brattan’s first-half influence in his press conference following the Roar’s commendable 2-1 loss to Liverpool at Suncorp Stadium last Friday.
“The controlling player, 18 (Brattan) sat in and controlled the game and gave us a wee bit of a problem in the first half in terms of when to press them and when not,” Rodgers said.
Brattan said it was nice to hear those comments but he said the Roar’s well-received performance was a team effort.
“I just did my job for the team,” he said.
“The boys played well (in the first half). It was a massive achievement to score a goal against them, they are a quality team.”
Aloisi was pleased with his side’s effort in their first outing under his guidance, but stressed all along that the match was just one part of the pre-season and his squad had plenty of work ahead.
That includes seeing more from Brattan, who had the highest number of completed passes per game (55.3) of any player in last season’s Hyundai A-League.
“We all know he’s a top player, the passing range he’s got. Can he improve? Yes, I think he can still,” Aloisi said.
“He can control a football game. We’ve seen it in the past and this season he’ll be another important player for us.”
Aloisi is urging Brattan to position himself higher up the pitch than he has in recent seasons.
“I just want him behind the first line of (opposition) defence. I don’t want him receiving the ball and we have beaten a line yet,” Aloisi said.
Brattan, who made 24 Hyundai A-League and six AFC Champions League appearances in 2014/15 and was the Roar Members’ Player of the Year, says he is working hard for an even more impressive 2015/16.
“My game is never perfect and I’ve got a lot of things to work on and happy that the boss thinks that,” he said.
“It is early days, I’ve got to get fitter . . . that’s a big part of what I got to work on along with my defensive work.
“I always enjoy playing higher up the field but I still have got to concentrate on doing my job defensively.”
Brattan was named by Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou in a 46-man preliminary squad in December 2014 ahead of the AFC Asian Cup but didn’t make the final Australian squad which went on to win the tournament.
He still has ambitions to play for the Socceroos and hopes the extra work he is putting in can realise that goal.
“Every player that plays in the A-League wants to play for the Socceroos. Hopefully I can play for them one day,” Brattan said.