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World Cup: Bailey Wright ready for Australian challenge
Graeme Bailey talks with Preston North End star Bailey Wright ahead of Australia's World Cup campaign.
Last Updated: 13/06/14 3:03pm
Bailey Wright has history in his sights as Australia open their World Cup campaign against Chile on Friday.
The 21-year-old was one of the shock names included in Ange Postecoglou's pre-World Cup squad and then the Preston North End defender did enough to work his way into the final selection, despite not having a cap before this call-up.
Wright is now in Brazil, and is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Sir Tom Finney - the last North End player to feature at a World Cup, when he starred for England at the 1958 finals in Sweden.
Now, just months after the death of Finney, it is almost fitting that a Preston player - the first in a generation - is set to take his place at the finals.
"You always dream about this sort of thing, but it is actually happening and it is something totally different - it is a big difference from playing in League One, but that is football and you never know what is round the corner and fortunately for me this has worked out," Wright told Sky Sports.
"I wasn't planning on this but the opportunity has come and I am looking to grab it with both hands and don't want to have any regrets.
"The last player was Sir Tom Finney and to follow him is something special, Preston is a huge part of my career and it is great to be here for them too, and with a legend like Sir Tom passing away it is that little bit more special."
Australia kick-off their World Cup campaign in Cuiaba and, having flown in from their training camp in Vitoria, Wright admits that they really are feeling the buzz of Brazil.
"We have flown in for the game and had time at the stadium, and we are really up for this now," he said.
You play football to test yourself, and to play against the best in the world. That is what football is all about, you want to test yourself and there is no better opportunity, Spain are the world champions, Holland and Chile - three very good teams but something we are looking forward to.
"Where we are based is quite isolated, but when we flew in a few of us said that the World Cup has really started now, there is a real buzz and everything is sinking in now, a World Cup in Brazil and this is what dreams are made of."
Chile are first up for Australia and many feel this could be their best chance for three points, but Wright insists that is not the case.
"The first game is always the toughest game, it is a tough group and we know that and we will have to be at the top of our game to get anything, but we have our game plans and hopefully we can execute them," he continued.
And, with Spain and Holland to come after Chile, Australia's task does look a daunting one, but Wright insists that they have little to fear.
"You play football to test yourself, and to play against the best in the world. That is what football is all about, you want to test yourself and there is no better opportunity, Spain are the world champions, Holland and Chile - three very good teams but something we are looking forward to."
No matter the outcome, Wright believes that Australia's presence in the World Cup finals is a huge plus point for the country.
"Football in Australia has grown a lot, and is getting bigger and bigger all the time - the A-League is growing and attracting more players and the support is getting better, but it is massive for Australia for us to get to the World Cup and for us to be here shows the kids what can be done, and it is a huge thing."
Wright's inclusion in the Australian squad has come despite playing in the third tier, and his presence in the World Cup finals has already led to speculation about his future with Preston - but the Melbourne-born youngster insists nothing is going to distract him.
"My focus since I first got here was Australia, to get in the 23 and then not just to make up the numbers but to get on the pitch and I will find that out soon, but my focus is on the World Cup - dreams are made of this and my focus is on that and nothing else."