Coach sings praises of ‘fantastic’ young player now attracting ‘big interest’ in Europe

Brisbane Roar interim head coach Ruben Zadkovich admits the club will struggle to keep hold of young striker Thomas Waddingham, revealing the player is on the agendas of clubs in both Asia and Europe.

Speaking after the Roar’s goalless draw with Melbourne Victory, Zadkovich was effusive in his praise of the 19-year-old Queenslander who has six league goals to his name this season.

“He’s led the line fantastically for the club, through a lot of turmoil and a lot of change. He’s then gone away and had the privilege of representing his country in the Under 23’s level which shows some really good recognition for him.

“There’s also a lot of interest around Tommy Waddingham. We’ve had a lot of conversations and a lot of talks about clubs potentially looking to buy Tommy…”

He continued: “I think he’s only one goal off breaking the record for the most, or maybe Irankunda now, breaking the record for the most goals scored by teenager.

“We don’t make players like Tommy Waddingham anymore. He’s that old school, proper number nine. He’s got so many areas he can improve and grow and I think he’s a massive asset to the club.”

Pressed for more details on where Waddingham might end up, Zadkovich revealed the teenager may well have his pick of suitors come the off-season.

“There’s been interest everywhere to be honest. There’s been interest within Australia, there’s been interest through Asia but there’s been some big interest through Europe which is great.

“We know that we’ve got an asset, we know that we’ve got a fantastic young player and you know we’ll keep working on developing him and bringing him to the top of the pile.”

With two years left on his current deal the Roar are likely to want a tidy sum in exchange for Waddingham’s services.

But while Waddingham’s long-term future is secured at Brisbane for now the club are still searching for a permanent head coach to lead them into next season.

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With head coach Ben Cahn having now officially left the club as he continues to fight an ongoing health battle, Ruben Zadkovich appears to be the front runner to take on the position full-time.

The former Perth Glory head coach has taken charge of 11 games since stepping into the role and while he is the favourite to take over the job on a full-time basis, he didn’t want to discuss it in too much detail.

“Time will tell, you know. Right now, I’m not really looking to try and talk about myself, I’d rather talk about my playing group. You know, positives like young Rylan Brownlie and Tommy Waddingham, Queensland homegrown guys, so many positives about the way the boys played tonight.”

Asked flat out if he would like to take the job full time at Suncorp Stadium, Zadkovich didn’t mince his words: “Of course.”

He went on to add: “Certainly in my time since I’ve been here, I’ve seen a real togetherness from the top down and I think that’s important and I think that gives a lot of people in Brisbane, a lot of fans, a lot of members and a lot of players hope. Obviously, we need to improve. And that’s what the club’s gonna look to do.”