The last time Harry Souttar spent time in Socceroos camp, things couldn’t have gone much better. Making up for time lost to knee surgery he played every minute of Australia’s resolute World Cup success, bolstering his own standing immeasurably with dogged showings against Tunisia and Denmark. Doors were opening; he’d outgrown Stoke City.

He returns to national colours for two friendlies against Ecuador as a key part of Leicester City’s relegation battle, having played every minute of their seven league games since his debut last month. Saturday’s point against Brentford has the Foxes clear of the drop – for now – but Souttar will have his work cut out for him on return to the Midlands.

‘It was certainly Harry’s best performance against Brentford, and it needed to be. Brentford are a side that are very strong on set pieces, like to get the ball in the box at every opportunity, so you need somebody who is commanding’, The Athletic’s Leicester reporter Rob Tanner told Box2Box.

‘If they can just find a partner for him of that similar level then they could be ok moving forward. Harry’s performance was really encouraging…He can get on the ball, play progressive passes through the lines. In the second half they had a period applying some pressure through set pieces and he stayed up there – previously, fans have always moaned that there isn’t a Plan B.’

Souttar’s first Socceroos appearances were something of a jovial novelty; playing centre-back, his near two-metre frame knocked in six goals from five early World Cup qualifiers. The serious role he was playing perhaps only became apparent when he was gone, after tearing his ACL in the Parramatta rain in November 2021.

To that point, Australia had won eleven games in World Cup qualification and lost just one; without him, they won one of five to miss automatic qualification. Graham Arnold called him into camp for moral support during their do-or-die matches with the UAE and Peru, and it’s no surprise those at Leicester have taken a similar fondness.

‘He’s a character, looks a bit of a leader, looks like he’s taken on board the seriousness of the situation as well. I think the fans see in him a bit of Robert Huth, that diehard defensive outlook: ‘anything that comes in the box, I will attack.’ They see that commitment in him, and I’m not surprised they already have a song for him.’

Long-gone are the days of Australians populating every other Premier League club, although a similar migration has taken place in the country of Souttar’s birth, Scotland. To Aussies, he’s now the sole national beacon in the English top flight, and there will be many riding the relegation through the night hoping that stays the case.

On paper, Brendan Rogers’ side looks comfortably mid-table, even if their 2016 title-winning side is scarcely represented any longer. Tanner feels survival isn’t certain, but that they should be able to sort their affairs with eleven games to go.

‘They’re not taking their chances, they’re conceding goals, can’t keep clean sheets, and are picking up injuries. These are all recipes for relegation. But I think the penny’s dropped with them, and it’s still in their hands if they can win the six games [against teams] in and around them.

‘They should have enough quality. Souttar will be key. Wout Faes, Ricardo Pereira, Youri Tielemans, Viktor Kristiansen will all be back. If they can keep players fit, in particular keep James Maddison and Harvey Barnes fit, then there should be three sides worse than them.’