Do World Cup heroics put fresh slant on Sheffield Wednesday contract saga?

When Massimo Luongo walked off the pitch at the Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium some 1,241 days ago, you’d have got good odds on it being the last time he did so in an Australia shirt.
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The then QPR midfielder had just qualified for the quarter-final of the Asian Cup and had featured in each of their matches in the tournament. Four years earlier he’d been long-listed for the Ballon D’or after a star turn in the Socceroos’ win in the same competition.

Playing for Australia is clearly something that means something to the battling midfielder, who left Aussie shores as a 16-year-old to join the academy at Tottenham Hotspur, taking in Swindon on his way to QPR and then Hillsborough.

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His tally of 42 caps has been on pause since he joined the Owls in the summer of 2019. And it’s a tally he’d like to add to.

Sheffield Wednesday midfielder Massimo Luongo has not given up on playing for Australia.Sheffield Wednesday midfielder Massimo Luongo has not given up on playing for Australia.
Sheffield Wednesday midfielder Massimo Luongo has not given up on playing for Australia.

How then does Australia’s dramatic qualification for this winter’s World Cup affect Luongo’s priorities when mulling over his contract offer from Wednesday? Would offers from clubs higher in the football ladder give him more of a chance of forcing his way into their squad for Qatar?

“Every call-up I’ve been injured,” Luongo told The Star at the outset of his injury comeback last season. “In the very first international window with Wednesday I was fit and I went, but every other time whether it was a two-week injury or a long injury, I wasn’t able to go.

“I’m not expecting anything but I’d love to be a part of it all, especially in a World Cup year, but I’m really not expecting anything.

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“I just want to play football and get back to doing what I love doing. The rest is a bonus.”

Some 28 players were called-up for the Socceroos’ last squad, with Luongo sitting out even after Tom Rogic’s exit.

Should he still harbour ambitions of getting back into the Australia squad, as was rumoured earlier this year, he’ll have to force himself in alongside players playing in Ligue 2, the Bundesliga, the Chinese Super League, the Norwegian Premier League and the Championship.

Whether all this bends the parameters of his decision whether or not to stay in League One remains to be seen.