Perhaps lost in the heroics of striker Jamie Maclaren or the suave stylings of new Head Coach Erick Mombaerts during Melbourne City’s start to the 2019/20 campaign has been the play of centre back Harrison Delbridge.
Struggling to get comfortable and having a series of high-profile brain snaps after joining City in the January transfer window of the 2017/18 season, the Appalachian State University alumn was quickly written off by some fans and media.
However, perhaps unrecognised by those detractors still relying on first impressions, the 27-year-old has since gone on to become one of the best Australian defenders in the A-League.
Stepping up in the wake of Dutch defender Bart Schenkeveld's, Delbridge's lift in quality should now put him in contention for a Socceroos call-up.
A notable feature of Delbridge’s play – especially in 2019/20 – has been his ability to make driving runs through the heart of the opposition’s midfield to open up a new phase of possession, and shift play towards the opposition's goal.
Combined with his knack for winning balls in the air and his pace-driven ability to provide cover for teammates, such a capacity to run with the ball – and a willingness to use it – makes the Australian-born, American-raised defender one of the league’s best.
“I feel comfortable on the ball right now,” Delbridge told FTBL following his side’s 3-2 win over Western Sydney Wanderers.
“It’s obviously a style where we’re on the ball as centre backs more often, and every now and then I think, as a centre back, we can keep the ball all we want but, at the end of the day, we need to create as many chances as possible.