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‘Devastating’ blow hurt forgotten Socceroo

DOHA: It’s been a whirlwind few days for Melbourne City’s Marco Tilio – from being the odd man out to now potentially having a chance to make a difference for his nation on the world stage.

The creative young attacker was on the bubble of the Socceroos’ original 26-man squad, but just missed out – but instead of kicking cans, he remained alert, just in case.

”There’s a lot of emotions going about everything, and when I originally got the news I wasn’t in the squad I was quite devastated, and I spoke to the likes of Macca and Leckie [club teammates Jamie Maclaren and Mat Leckie] at the club and they said to be ready, and that’s what I did,” Tilio told reporters.

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And when Martin Boyle was ruled out due to ongoing knee problems – which have since worsened from a meniscus issue to a dreaded ACL tear – the 21-year-old Tilio was rushed onto a plane to Doha.

“I got the news that I was called into camp to be here and I was very happy, but at the same time I didn’t want to get my hopes up again in case they were crushed in terms of going home again, so I’m just glad to be here now and I feel blessed to have the opportunity,” he said.

“It was pretty low for myself. I think I have high expectations for myself, so I was expecting to be involved. I put everything I could to be here, and obviously the news was devastating, but I’m here now.”

But with his opportunity came the brutal disappointment for Boyle.

And as happy as you are for yourself, how do you reconcile that with feelings of guilt over your mate’s injury?

“It’s a tough question. Me and Boyley are quite close friends and I really feel for him. He’s done a lot for this country and helped us qualify for this World Cup and I think he knows that, and the players are making sure he does know that, and I wish him all the very best in his recovery.”

Boyle stayed in Qatar for his knee surgery and is remaining a positive influence around the camp despite being unable to play. 

“He’s in good spirits, he’s still in camp which is good, so it’s good to have him around because he’s such a good guy and good character to have around the group,” Tilio said.

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“As I said, he’s a bubbly guy and really good to have around the group, so I’m just glad he’s back in camp, and hopefully he has a speedy recovery and everything goes well.”

But the biggest question for Tilio now that he’s in the squad is; will he feature against Tunisia?

Like always, he’s keeping his head up – and staying ready.

“I didn’t change anything that I do, and now I’m here. In the week that I wasn’t guaranteed to be in this team I was just doing everything I could to make sure I’m ready to be up to my best performance, and if I’m called upon I’m ready to take the opportunity.”

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