Decision time for Olyroo Irvine
It is decision time for 22-year-old Irvine whose loan deal with Ross County expires at the conclusion of the current campaign, along with his contract with parent club Celtic.
Irvine scored on the weekend (video below) for Ross County, fresh from Olyroos duty and a long 35-hour journey back to Inverness from Chinese Taipei.
He has also played a key role in central midfield in County’s recent resurgence, unbeaten in their past eight games, including seven wins, to boost their survival hopes.
Irvine enjoyed a similar experience on loan at Kilmarnock 12 months ago and he told FourFourTwo he is now at a point in his career where he needs regular first-team action.
“Of course I’d love to have another crack to play at a club like that, but I’ve just turned 22, I can’t be going back again to sitting in the reserves dressing room,” Irvine told FourFourTwo.
“I’ve played 60 SPL games now, so I think I need to establish myself as a first-team regular.
“Although I’d love to continue at Celtic, if I’m going to be going back as a reserve player then we’ll probably have to consider moving on.”
Irvine said his immediate focus was on ensuring 10th placed Ross County’s SPL survival, with Scott McDonald’s 11th placed Motherwell pressing to avoid the playoff spot.
The Melbourne-born talent was trying to put his playing future out of mind, given its complicated nature, with Celtic yet to reveal their plans for him beyond this contract.
“It’s a tough situation for me at the moment because I am so focused on the here and now, but you’ve got to have one eye on next season as well,” he said.
“I need to start assessing my future in the next few weeks. Come the end of the season the decision will have to be made pretty quickly.”
Irvine has been playing in central midfield in a 4-4-2 for County, but was deployed in central defence in a 4-3-3 during the Olyroos’ recent qualifying tournament in Chinese Taipei.
The one-time Socceroo’s versatility will make him an attractive player should he find himself uncontracted at season’s end.
“I’m a central midfielder by trade, so naturally that’s where I’m happiest,” he said
“Any position in the centre of the pitch is where I’m most comfortable.”
Irvine said he felt County would be keen to retain him beyond this season, but hadn’t made any formal offer and a lot would depend on retaining their SPL status.
Speaking about his loan spell with the Staggies, he added: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time up here. It’s been really good for my development, especially over the last six months and when we’ve been picking up results since January.
“It’s been good to develop a winning habit and be part of a team that is confident.”