Victory's Rogic says he is better than ever

For a man who is expected to reinvigorate Melbourne Victory's depleted midfield and reboot its floundering season Tom Rogic looked remarkably relaxed and self contained as he fronted the media for his first appearance in a Victory shirt.

It might only have been the club polo rather than the navy blue playing strip, but Rogic, who has signed a loan deal until the end of May, looked comfortable enough in his new skin and with the expectations that are sure to be heaped on his shoulders.

These are difficult times for Victory and its rookie coach Kevin Muscat.

Midfielder Mitch Nichols is already out the door, having gone to Japan to join J-League club Cerezo Osaka in a deal believed to be worth around $400,000.

And Socceroo regular Mark Milligan, the club's key presence in the centre of the park and Victory's captain, is also in demand. Lucrative approaches, reportedly from the Middle East, having been made for the holding midfielder, whom Victory retained in the last transfer window despite the interest of Premier League club Crystal Palace.

If he leaves there will be some big shoes to fill, so can Rogic be the silver bullet that solves Muscat's problems at a stroke ?

It's a big ask, but there is no doubt that the tall, elegant 21-year-old, who has joined Victory from Celtic, has the quality and talent to fill some big holes.

Socceroo boss Ange Postecoglou rates Rogic very highly, and there is every likelihood that he could be in the starting eleven when Australia takes the field against Chile in its opening World Cup match in Brazil in June.

And the World Cup is the key reason why Rogic, who made his name at Central Coast Mariners, is back in the A-League rather than sitting on the bench in Glasgow, where he has failed to establish himself as a first team regular in Neil Lennon's side since moving to Scotland this time last year.

Postecoglou made it clear that for all his talent Rogic could not expect to be anything more than a bit player unless he secured regular football in the second half of the season.

This move will ensure he becomes the fulcrum of one of the A-League's better performed sides and plays regularly right up to May: the fact that Victory might also have seven Asian Champions League games in that period on top of its A-League schedule is an added bonus.

Rogic's lack of game time in Glasgow has been a big issue for Australian supporters, desperate for him to establish himself as a first team regular and boost his Socceroo stocks.

And while the player himself admits it has been disappointing not to get regular starts, he says he has no regrets about joining the Glasgow giants.

"I am happy there. It's a fantastic club, but I think it's important for me at this stage of my career to be playing," he said on Tuesday morning.

"It's a good squad there, its very difficult to break into, there's a lot of great players. Its been a good learning experience, I feel I am a much better player than I was 12 months ago. I look back on the last year with positives to come out of it.

"Celtic's a fantastic club. It's a great set up there, with amazing fans. I enjoyed winning the double last year. It's a successful club, in the European Champions League, no I don't have any regrets.

"It's been a great learning experience for me, but at this stage of my career its important for me to be playing."

Rogic had been linked with a loan move to other A-League clubs – his first team, the Mariners, and also Sydney FC – as well as his former coach Graham Arnold's Japanese club Vegalta Sendai, but Victory fitted the bill better for Celtic.

“Everyone wants to play and that's my focus, to come here and play and help Melbourne Victory to further success," Rogic said.

"The way things were working out this was my best option and something I felt comfortable with and excited about.

"The ACL is an added bonus. It's not a deciding factor, it's not guaranteed, but I had a taste of it last time round with the Mariners. It's an exciting competition."

Muscat says he is thrilled to get the chance of using such a talented young player in the second half of the season.

"When it was known that Celtic were entertaining letting him go on loan we were in the mix immediately. I am excited, I think he will fit into the way we try and play. I think it's a win for everyone, Celtic will get a player out who is going to play some football, Tom has a great opportunity to come home.

Rogic joined his new team-mates for a light training session on Tuesday and it is likely he will be involved against Sydney on Sunday although his new coach would not say whether he would start.

Rogic himself is happy to get involved as soon as possible.

The A-League season should have Rogic in perfect trim to play his part in the World Cup campaign, but after that he plans to return to Glasgow to see out his contract and try to establish himself with Celtic.

Its only natural to assume that... that's my intention," he said.

The story Victory's Rogic says he is better than ever first appeared on Brisbane Times.

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