The last few weeks have been a dream introduction to international football for Ben Halloran, but the forward won't allow himself to relax just yet, with the potential heartache of being excluded from Australia's final World Cup squad still a possibility.
Halloran missed out on a likely senior Socceroos debut in March when injury precluded his involvement in the friendly against Ecuador in London.
That didn't derail his World Cup hopes, as a strong finish to the 2. Bundesliga season for Fortuna Dusseldorf earned him a spot in Ange Postecoglou's provisional 30-man training squad.
The 21-year-old finally got a taste of the action in a green and gold shirt off the bench against South Africa on Monday night.
Having survived the cut to a travelling squad of 27 players, Halloran found himself seated next to a modern great of Australian football in Mark Bresciano at Wednesday's press conference to mark the team's departure for Brazil.
"It's all pretty surreal at the moment," he said.
"To make my debut last week and to be going to Brazil now is pretty nice timing.
"At the moment I'm trying to keep quite grounded and focus on training because I still need to be selected in the 23. At the moment I'm not getting too far ahead of myself, but obviously very excited."
After expressing their condolences to Curtis Good, Adam Sarota and Josh Brillante this week, Halloran and his fellow fringe players need no reminding of the fate that awaits the four men who will be axed from the squad next week.
"Obviously very disappointing for those boys," Halloran said when asked about the unfortunate trio.
"It's very stiff competition. They did very well in the training (during) the previous couple of weeks. It was very sad to see them go but they're good young players and I'm sure they'll be back."
Although they will be allowed to remain in camp as injury replacement options up until June 12, that will be little consolation to the next set of players deemed surplus to requirements by Postecoglou, with Halloran predicting a tight race to justify individual inclusion.
"Everybody's fighting for that spot in the 23," he said.
"It's going to be tough; I think everyone has a pretty good chance. We'll have to work hard over the new few days and hopefully get a ticket to the 23."
For those lucky enough to survive the final cut, a daunting assignment awaits when an inexperienced side tries to take the game to opponents of the calibre of Chile, the Netherlands and Spain.
The lacklustre friendly against South Africa raised questions about the Socceroos' capacity to go on the offensive against the world's best, but Halloran insisted the group have been convinced by Postecoglou's belief that attack may be the best form of defence.
"I think everybody's bought into that philosophy, I think it's the way to go," he said.
"Parking the bus against these teams, it's what they're good at, they're used to playing through a big set of 10 players maybe sitting on the edge of the box. So trying to use their (attacking) qualities against them will serve us well."
Time will tell if that proves to be the case, while it remains to be seen if Halloran will avoid the axe.
But you can certain the determined former Brisbane Roar man will leave nothing to chance in his bid to make an impact in Brazil.
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