Caltex Socceroo Chris Ikonomidis has promised not to get star-struck if given the chance to shine against England at a sold-out Stadium of Light this weekend.
The attacking midfielder has been a regular member of Ange Postecoglou’s squad since Australia’s Asian Cup success but has notched just three international caps over that time.
While the prospect of playing against the likes of Wayne Rooney, Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling would intimidate most young players Ikonomidis said he was ready for the challenge.
“As soon as I found out about the fixture I’ve been working hard to get into the squad to play this one,” Ikonomidis told FFA TV.
“This is a huge match playing against the guys I grew up watching on TV and idolising. It’ll be fantastic and I’m really looking forward to it.
“The Premier League is really followed closely in Australia so the players are quite well known.
“Wayne Rooney for example is one player where I’ve got three or four of his jerseys back home, so it’ll be fantastic.”
With Ikonomidis unable to break into Lazio’s first team this season the youngster spent the second half of the campaign on loan at Serie B outfit Salernitana.
It’s a move that brought about some much needed game time and the youngster also recently netted his first senior goal a week before his 21st birthday.
“The last six months have been crucial to my development. I’ve played 90 minutes on a regular basis now in a quite difficult league,” said Ikonomidis.
“It’s been fantastic for me both character wise and ability wise to put myself up against some great players in Europe and getting my first goal a few weeks ago was fantastic as well.”
The challenge for Ikonomidis now is to push the likes of Aaron Mooy, Tom Rogic and Massimo Luongo for a starting spot in a Socceroos midfield that is brimming with talent.
“It’s been about 15 months now since my first Socceroos call-up and every time it gets a bit easier to come into camp,” said Ikonomidis.
“That’s really one of my main targets and goals for my football career is to be part of the Socceroos and it was also a reason for my loan deal decision.
“I wanted to try find regular football and work my way up the Socceroos ranks.”
Following the clash against England the Socceroos will return home for matches against Greece in Sydney and Melbourne, which will have special significance for the Cronulla-born star.
“It’ll be fantastic for me to run out there if I’m given the chance against Greece as it’s my grandparents heritage,” said Ikonomidis.
“Especially at home in front of my friends and family and they’re still a quality opposition so I think we’ll have our work cut out for us.”
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