Roar’s O’Neill happy to be home
AIDEN O'Neill is delighted his football journey has brought him home to Brisbane.
On loan to the Roar from Premier League club Burnley, the 21-year-old midfielder says he has a "great opportunity" to prosper under the guidance of Brisbane coach and Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler.
And if that leads to O'Neill returning to Burnley at the end of the 2019-20 A-League season, he will be thrilled.
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But if his stay in Brisbane extends beyond this season, he will also have few complaints.
"I'm just enjoying being back home with family and friends, and just enjoying my football at the moment," said the former Brisbane Boys College student, who put pen to paper on a new Burnley deal before being loaned to the Roar.
"Signing with a Premier League club again is a great achievement, and going out on loan and working under Robbie Fowler here is a great opportunity to gain more experience.
"That was a big factor in me coming to Brisbane. When he (Fowler) rang me it was pretty tough to say no to someone like him, who's had that big of an impact in British football. It was an easy decision for me."
O'Neill, who made three Premier League appearances for Burnley as an 18-year-old, is no stranger to the A-League, having been on loan at Central Coast Mariners last season.
Despite the Mariners' struggles, O'Neill was the club's player of the year.
"I enjoyed my time there last season, but it was a difficult season," said the Brisbane Athletic junior, who will renew acquaintances with the Mariners on Wednesday night when the Roar host Central Coast in an FFA Cup round-of-16 clash at Dolphin Stadium.
"I've still got a few mates there, and it will be really fun playing against them, but I now play for Brisbane.
"I'm lucky to be a part of the Roar, and hopefully I can do my part this season and do my best whenever I'm called upon."
O'Neill's "best" should also be enough for him to represent the Australian under-23 team at next year's Olympics - provided the Olyroos get there.
Australia must finish in the top three at January's AFC under-23 championship in Thailand to qualify for Tokyo 2020.
"We've got a really good group of players," said O'Neill, who along with Roar teammate Connor O'Toole has been chosen in a 24-man Olyroos squad for two friendly matches next month against New Zealand in Wollongong and Campbelltown.
"As a footballer playing for your country is a massive privilege, so it's a no-brainer for me. If my country selects me, I'm always going."
Meanwhile, Andy Pengelly will be aiming to continue his red-hot form when the Brisbane Strikers host NPL NSW club Manly United in an FFA Cup round-of-16 match at Perry Park.
"This is a massive opportunity for us to reach the quarter-finals, and they would also see it as a massive opportunity," said Pengelly, who has scored 51 goals in all competitions this season.