Australian goalkeeper Jack Duncan has revealed focusing on the 2016 Olympic Games has helped him through a tough start to his European career.
The former Perth Glory and Newcastle Jets gloveman joined Danish Superliga club Randers in June but has yet to make his league debut, having only turned out for one cup tie in the first half of the 2015-16 season.
Duncan has been stuck behind Sweden international Karl-Johan Johnsson - a familiar situation to his time at Perth when Danny Vukovic was the number one - but the 22-year-old insists he has enjoyed his initial stint with Randers.
With the Olyroos set to compete in the Asian Football Confederation's Under 23 Championship in Qatar in January, Duncan has used his international ambitions as motivation during the week-in, week-out training in Denmark.
Duncan is one of two Australians on the books at Randers, with Olyroos attacking midfielder Mustafa Amini having played 16 games.
"Having the national team at the moment is a big help, because not only does it give me a chance to get away but also something to push for, and thinking that at the moment I'm pushing for the number one [spot] there," he told Goal Australia.
"It helps me day to day thinking the work I'm putting in here, it might not give me the benefit this weekend or next weekend, but I'm working for something."
Duncan added that with Johnsson widely expected to join a bigger club in the foreseeable future, he knows he needs to remain sharp to grab an opportunity whenever it may arise.
"I think that's important to have that big picture also. To think 'Yeah, this season I might not get too many games but when I do get the opportunity, the work I've already put in everyday, trying to push myself, that's hopefully going to come fruition and prove myself in the first team," he said.
Duncan is likely to compete against Paul Izzo of Central Coast Mariners and Adelaide United's John Hall for the number one shirt when Aurelio Vidmar's Olyroos take on United Arab Emirates, Vietnam and Jordan in Group D in Qatar during the Superliga's winter break.
The top two in each of the four groups will advance to the quarter-finals, with three teams set to qualify for Rio 2016.
Duncan reckons Australia can not only qualify for their first Olympics since 2012 but make an impact in Brazil.
"We went to the [Under 20] World Cup as a group and we did ok," he said.
"I would say we maybe underperformed a little bit in the second game. But I think that's kind of left a bit of a bitter taste because we realised that we've got a really good age group, we've got a good squad and we're really close, which helps a lot when you're away for a long time together. So I think the Olympics are definitely a major goal."
While Duncan has struggled for first-team appearances in Denmark, he is convinced leaving Australia was the right option.
"I couldn't be happier with the decision I've made," he said."Regardless that Vuka's [Vukovic] now moved on from Perth as well and potentially I could be playing there but I couldn't be happier with how the move has turned out, regardless of playing time, because I think this is the best environment for me to be in."
When are your Caltex Socceroos in action this weekend?
Awer Mabil and FC Midtjylland are out to flag their Danish Superliga intentions this weekend against Nordsjaellan... Midtjylland got their new campaign off to a winning start last Saturday morning as Mikael Anderson struck a 90th-minute winner in a 1-0 victory over Esbjerg.
Heat, humidity, altitude and air miles: what the Caltex Socceroos can expect on the road to Qatar
The Caltex Socceroos? road to Qatar 2022 is likely to be a long and winding one, featuring intense heat, humidity, altitude and countless air miles. Having received a bye through their first round of Asian Football Confederation qualifying for FIFA World Cup 2022, Graham Arnol
‘I’m loving being back’: Behich beams about return to Turkey
Caltex Socceroos defender Aziz Behich has his sights set on Champions League football with new club ?stanbul Ba?ak?ehir FK after making a ?smooth transition? back into Turkish Football. After spending last season in Holland at PSV Eindhoven, Behich has returned to Turkey where
Gary van Egmond names maiden Young Socceroos squad
New Young Socceroos Head Coach Gary van Egmond today named his maiden squad in charge of Australia?s under-20 men?s national football team. Van Egmond has selected 30 players for a training camp at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra from Sunday, 28 July 2019 to Fri