The boys from the West

EC Joondalup boast of Chris Herd, Rhys Williams and Shane Lowry from their production line - and there are more where they came from.

They are described as the "big three" by ECU Joondalup president Steve Wheatley.

Aston Villa-s Chris Herd, Middlesbrough captain Rhys Williams and Millwall defender Shane Lowry; the crown jewels of the WA club. And yet, only one has pulled on the green and gold of Australia.

Wheatley, who in a thick Yorkshire accent which belies his 20-year stay in Perth, said Joondalup, the West Australian state league powerhouse, encouraged players it had helped sign for overseas clubs to commit their international futures to Australia.

“They are Australian boys and they should be playing for Australia,” he said.

“I was president when we won the WA Premier League and that was fantastic. But the biggest buzz I-ve had was seeing Rhys Williams turn out in a Socceroos shirt.

“For us all to be successful, we need a successful national side. Once we start getting to World Cups every time, we-re going to see the A-League improve and it-s all going to filter down to us at grass roots.”

Williams played youth football for Wales but never had any doubts about where he would place his senior allegiance once Australia came knocking. He has since made nine appearances.

Herd, an energetic midfielder in Villa-s English Premier League struggles this season, played for Australia at the 2009 under-20 World Cup and has drifted in and out of Socceroos contention without yet making an appearance.

Lowry played at youth level for Ireland and despite his inclusion in an expanded Socceroos squad prior to the 2010 World Cup, he did not make the final cut and is yet to make his debut.

A keen Leeds United fan, Wheatley is particularly fond of Lowry, who had a loan spell at the Elland Road club in 2010, and is surprised at the 23-year-old-s Socceroos absence.

“How can you have a kid playing Championship football, week in week out, he-s played nearly 100 games now, and he-s not getting into national side? It galls me a bit,” Wheatley said.

John Brown, a Joondalup junior coach, also expected an international debut for Lowry.

“I don-t see a lot of the Championship games but everyone tells me that he-s playing well every week,” he said. “I think he-ll be on the radar now.”

While Brown acknowledged the achievements of the ‘big three,- he was even more glowing of former Blackburn Rovers, Adelaide United, North Queensland Fury and Central Coast Mariners midfielder Rostyn Griffiths, who now plays for Chinese club Guangzhou.

“Personally I thought Rostyn Griffiths was ahead of Chris Herd at his age,” Brown said of a player who only blossomed after leaving Blackburn.

The next group of “graduates” likely to make an overseas impression include the younger brothers of Rhys Williams, twins Ryan (Fulham) and Aryn (Burnley).

Alex Grant, who has been linked to a move from Portsmouth to Stoke City, and Cameron Burgess, who is at Fulham, are also players to keep an eye on, according to those in the know at ECU.