Adelaide United’s Joe Gauci has earned first crack at establishing himself among the next generation of Socceroos’ goalkeepers, today receiving a maiden call-up for the side’s pair of friendlies against Ecuador this month.

Incumbent Mat Ryan is only 30, but has long been supported by senior pros Danny Vukovic, Andrew Redmayne and Brad Jones. Heading into a new World Cup cycle the need to regenerate is apparent and in playing every minute for the second-placed Reds this season, 22-year old Gauci has pushed to the front of the queue.

‘I feel like I’ve started to settle. The previous two years at the club I’d had stints of playing, the first year was ten games before injury, then last year I was able to see out the season, so coming into pre-season it was about seeing if I could start as the No.1 and continue where I’d left off.

‘When I was able to do that it’s then been all about consistency, which I think I’m slowly finding. I’m still making mistakes and learning every week. I don’t feel like it’s a breeze, it’s a challenge every week coming up against some fantastic players, but I feel really comfortable in being the No.1.’

Gauci will have familiar faces for company in camp in club teammates Craig Goodwin and Nestory Irankunda. The pair are arguably the A-League’s hottest property at present; Goodwin tasted the fruits of his twelve-year career in Qatar, while Irankunda [selected as a train-on] has taken the baton from Garang Kuol as the league’s most exciting teenager.

‘Craig always wants to lead by example. The captain’s role is something he continues to grow into, and everyone has seen the results of that. In driving standards at training he also lifts himself, it keeps him accountable and maintains his level. He’s been fantastic this year.

‘Nestory’s such an exciting player, and a great kid. Australian football fans and media have set a pretty high ceiling for him but you have to remember at the end of the day, he’s just a seventeen year old kid that loves playing football, scoring goals and celebrating with his flips.

‘He has a lot of confidence, knows what he can do, and has no fear. He’s going out there to express himself, to run at players and the coaches know that. They know what they’re going to get.’

Gauci’s assent to the national team represents a logical progression from his selection at last year’s U23 Asian Cup, when he played the first five games of a tournament in which the Aussies reached the semi-finals.

‘Going to Uzbekistan was my first ever national team representation, national tournament, and it was amazing. There were five of us that went from Adelaide but being able to play with boys you play against in the A-League and build those relationships with Australian footballers from all over the world was something I took from it.

‘It’s quite surreal how you can get a bunch of Aussies together, quite a few who haven’t met each other, but over the weeks you build this bond and chemistry on the pitch that we were able to have some success with.’

Gauci now has a few more Aussie footballers to form that bond with.