Ryan says he won’t get French fried

Daily Star Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - Steve Mil­lar

GOAL­KEEPER Mat Ryan faces the French rev­o­lu­tion of strik­ers in the Soc­ceroos’ open­ing World Cup bat­tle.

Les Bleus boss Di­dier Deschamps has a for­mi­da­ble fir­ing line of Olivier Giroud, An­toine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Ous­mane Dem­bele at his dis­posal.

Brighton man Ryan, 26, could be for­given for shak­ing just a lit­tle in his boots ahead of the June 16 clash in Kazan.

But think again.

The Aus­tralia goal­keeper has just emerged from the tough­est of do­mes­tic cam­paigns where he played ev­ery minute of the Seag­ulls’ suc­cess­ful sur­vival mis­sion.

No Premier League keeper faced more shots than Ryan last sea­son – an as­ton­ish­ing 560 in to­tal at an av­er­age of al­most 15 per game. So he will not have any fear about fac­ing the French af­ter feel­ing the heat in Eng­land’s top flight.

Ryan said: “Play­ing in the Premier League this sea­son has been great prepa­ra­tion for the World Cup, and it was one of the rea­sons why I signed for Brighton.

“You are up against world-class strik­ers ev­ery sin­gle week and I knew it would help me be­come a bet­ter keeper.

“It’s a tough start in Rus­sia. France will be one of the favourites and they have some fan­tas­tic play­ers. But we won’t go into the game with any fear.

“Aus­tralians have al­ways been tough com­peti­tors and noth­ing has changed that.”

Team-mate Tim Cahill, 38, be­lieves Ryan is worth his weight in gold and will stay strong in the face of some fe­ro­cious fire­power.

He said: “For us as a na­tional team, he’s in­dis­pens­able. The best thing Maty has done was go to the Premier League and play in the hard­est league in the world.

“He has seen out the whole sea­son and has been ex­cep­tional – one of the main play­ers in Brighton’s squad. He has a lot of amaz­ing traits as a goal­keeper and he’s still evolv­ing.”

Back home the Aussie crick­eters’ ball-tam­per­ing scan­dal led to bans for Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Ban­croft and left the sport stained for­ever.

But Ryan hopes the Soc­ceroos’ per­for­mances in Rus­sia can show foot­ball in a bet­ter light.

He added: “What hap­pened with the cricket team was un­for­tu­nate to say the least. I don’t think peo­ple will be look­ing at the foot­ball team any dif­fer­ently. What the cricket team did has noth­ing to do with us.

“Maybe we can get peo­ple talk­ing about Aus­tralian sport for all the right rea­sons again. But we won’t change the way we play the game.

“You have to be tough when you go to the top level, there’s no other way. The crick­eters know they crossed a line but we can’t let that change what we do. “We got to the World Cup by fight­ing hard and play­ing tough. And we’ll con­tinue to do that.”

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