Introducing the League One youngster looking to reach the World Cup

Preston North End

Preston North End defender Bailey Wright is looking to be the only League One player at the World Cup this summer, with Australia watching the youngster.

The Lilywhites defender, 21, has been the player of the year at Deepdale having turned in consistently outstanding displays in the heart of Simon Grayson's backline, which has conceded just 30 goals in League One this season – the second lowest total in the division.

And having arrived in Lancashire from Melbourne in 2009, Wright is a proud Australian who took great joy at his country's win over England in the recent Ashes series, and is hoping this superb displays for Preston this season will earn him a call-up to the Australia national team – especially with the World Cup just months away.

"I have had contact in the last few months about what is happening," he told The Independent. "For the game in London in March, it is my aim to get involved and hopefully get a chance to show what I can do."

Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou recently attended Preston's game at Bradford City in order to watch Wright and team mate Neil Kilkenny, though the latter was sent off in the first half which may have put paid to his chances of breaking back into the squad – but Wright is still in the frame with the upcoming friendly against Ecuador.

It seems that experienced centre back Lucas Neill will struggle to make any squad at the moment, with the 35-year-old failing to find a club, and with Rhys Williams of Middlesbrough injured, there is certainly a chance that Wright can break into the squad and nail down a place in Postecoglou's 23-man squad that will travel to the World Cup.

It's a huge change of fortunes for Wright, who was transfer listed by former Preston boss Graham Westley in the summer of 2012, only for chairman Peter Ridsdale to overrule the decision. Now considered to be future captain material at Deepdale, Wright could even earn a move away from Preston should he impress for Australia at the World Cup.

Whilst not the tallest defender at just 6ft, Wright has a great reading of the game for his age and is a full-blooded centre back who can still dominate in the air. His experience of playing at both full back positions for Preston could also work in his favour, and with a strong end to the season, Wright could make it to the World Cup and follow in the footsteps of the late Preston great Sir Tom Finney – the last Preston player to play at the World Cup.

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