While Jackson Irvine is relishing being back on the international stage, he is not underestimating the importance of the next few matches for Australia as its FIFA World Cup Qualifying campaign resumes.
Speaking to Socceroos.com.au from the Australia’s hub in the United Arab Emirates, the Melbourne-born midfielder says there is a buzz among the group as the Socceroos prepare to face off against Kuwait on Friday June 4.
“The boys are hugely excited to be back,” said Irvine.
“Having not seen each other for almost a couple of years, there is an incredible buzz within the group both on and off the field.”
Australia will play four World Cup Qualifiers in just twelve days; a challenge Irvine says the Socceroos are not taking lightly at all.
However, despite the upcoming congested fixtures, Irvine enjoyed regular playing time with Hibernian in Scotland this season which should hold the 28-year-old in good stead.
“It’s an important time for us,” he explained.
“The preparation is already well underway for these crucial games. I started 21 games in the last four months so I’m feeling fit, refreshed and couldn’t be in any better shape coming into camp.”
Coach Graham Arnold selected several new faces in the latest squad with the exciting A-League form of Connor Metcalfe, Denis Genreau and Ruon Tongyik's also catching the eye of Irvine.
“It’s awesome to see some fresh faces in the squad,” he added.
“These guys have progressed their domestic form massively and earned their spot in the group. There’s a lot at stake in these games so even the newcomers are going to have come in and do a massive job for us just as we did at the start of the campaign.”
Australia currently sits top Group B of Asian qualifying, having secured four straight wins before COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to a standstill.
After Kuwait, the Socceroos face Chinese Taipei, Nepal and Jordan in what will be their first matches since November 2019.
With 31 players selected in the squad and after such a long time between international fixtures, Irvine believes anyone is in contention for a starting place.
“There’s no guaranteed places within the squad,” said Irvine.
“I think all the players will get some minutes so it’s vital everyone is ready to perform when called upon.”