Could Leeds fit the bill for high-profile Western United friendly?

No deals have been done and the club has remained tight-lipped about any such fixture. But they are keen to maximise publicity and build their identity and brand ahead of their kick-off next October.

Western United signing Connor Chapman.Credit:Jonathan Carroll

Leeds would resonate strongly with an Australian audience as many football fans in this country have an allegience to the Yorkshire team as it was where Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka starred when they were establishing their reputations in the EPL.

Under charismatic Argentinian coach Marcelo Bielsa, Leeds are pushing hard for promotion to the premier league and are top of the championship.

One of Western United’s first signings, defensive utility Connor Chapman, believes his two-season stint in South Korea’s K-League has made him not just a better player but helped him grow up and mature as a person.

Chapman, 24, started his career at the Newcastle Jets before spending two seasons at Melbourne City.

But he left to join K-League club Incheon in January 2017 and spent two years in one of Asia’s most demanding competitions before returning to Australia to sign for start-up club Western.

Chapman made his name in this country as a central defender – earning caps for all three of Australia’s under-age teams in that position – but in South Korea he moved into the centre of the pitch where he spent most of his time playing as a central defensive midfielder.

It is there that he hopes to make his mark for Western and, given the retirement of Mile Jedinak and the fact that Socceroo skipper Mark Milligan is 33, catch the eye of Socceroos boss Graham Arnold as a candidate for a midfield berth in the international squad for the next World Cup campaign.

”I grew up a lot when I went to Korea. I played first at Incheon and then went to one of the bigger teams, Pohang Steelers, in my second season there,” Chapman said.

”I wanted the challenge of trying to better myself: I knew some Australians, like Sasa Ognenovski and Robbie Cornthwaite, big, strong centre halves, had done well there, and I wanted to see if I could match that.

”I played a bit at the back but was moved into central midfield, and I really enjoyed that. I played there as a youngster and I have the technical ability and the stamina to play further forward.”

Chapman said the responsibility of being one of a limited number of foreigners on a squad list made him develop his leadership skills rapidly.

”There might be 30 or 40 players in the squad but if you are taking up a foreign spot you are expected to be one of the leaders out on the pitch and within the team. That has really helped me mature as a player and as a person.”

Chapman explains that his decision to return to Australia had more to do with a medical condition he developed than his dissatisfaction with Pohang.

”I had signed a two-year contract extension in December but then I got ill (in the Korean off season). It was probably mismanaged and language might have played its part, but I got a stomach parasite and it wasn’t getting any better.

”I was flying back to Australia for treatment, and I was sick for nearly eight weeks. I knew when I recovered that it would take me another six to eight weeks, well into the season, to even get fit and be anywhere near ready to play.

”They asked me if I would terminate my contract, so I decided to come back home.

”My agent spoke to a few A-League clubs, but when Western United was interested it seemed like a really good opportunity to be part of something new, to build up a new team and try to be part of its history.”

Michael Lynch is The Age’s chief soccer reporter and also reports on motor sport and horseracing

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