Irvine eager for Celtic crack

Australian midfielder Jackson Irvine has enjoyed his loan stint with Kilmarnock in the Scottish Premiership but says he is eager to have a crack at breaking into Celtic’s first-team next season.

Irvine joined Kilmarnock on a six-month loan at the start of the 2013-2014 campaign but had the loan extended after impressing on East Ayrshire. The 21-year old has made 25 appearances for Killie this season and scored one goal.

“Everything’s being going pretty well,” Irvine said.

“The season’s winding down now, five games left so, we’re in a bit of a tough spot but it’s going to be an interesting few games to see how we end.”

Irvine said he has learned a lot from his time with Kilmarnock.

“It’s 25 games now that I would have never have been able to play with Celtic,” he said.

“To get that, in the first season of first-team football under your belt is important. It’s always going to be difficult trying to adapt to the tempo and the physicality of the game, but the only way you get that experience is to play in it. In that sense it’s been a great learning curve for me.”

Usually a central midfielder, Irvine has been used in every position from right back to central defence, defensive midfield, attacking midfield and even left wing this campaign.

“It’s always good to know you can be used as a utility player and fill in lots of gaps, and that’s good especially as a squad player so the manager can use you in a number of places,” he said.

“I’m a centre midfielder by trade, that’s where I’ve played most of my life. I like to think I’m comfortable filling in in other positions, but traditionally I’m a centre midfielder.”

Kilmarnock currently sit in eighth place in Scotland on 33 points, but have three teams below them all within three points. The club faces 11th placed Partick Thistle on Saturday, with a victory virtually ensuring they avoid the drop.

“It’s going to be pretty tight,” Irvine said.

“Without a doubt it’s our biggest game. If we win on Saturday we open a gap of six points, between us and them, and we have a superior goal difference as well so they would have to take results from three of their last four games which is a tough ask. If we in on Saturday it’s basically giving us a massive step towards safety.”

A Knox City and Melbourne Victory junior, Irvine joined Celtic in 2010 after trialling with the club. He will have meetings with the Hoops at the end of this season to see if he will play part in their 2014-2015 campaign, or whether he will go on loan again or possibly leave the club permanently.

“That’s the way the plan is at the moment, reporting back for [Celtic’s] pre-season next season,” Irvine said.

“We’ll see what happens over the summer period. But again that’s all to come. My priority, of course, is to go back and be a Celtic player and try my hardest to get into their first-team.”

After playing for Scotland’s Under-19s and the Young Socceroos, Irvine made his debut for the Socceroos against Canada in October.

“It’s still the highlight for me,” he said.

“To make my senior international debut, it’s one of the biggest moments of my career so far. It was a great honour. It’s one of those ones – once it’s done, you’ve got to basically move on from that and keep trying to do well at your club to stay part of the squad. You don’t want it to be a one-time thing, you want to be a part of the squads and keep fighting for your place.”

Irvine said he hasn’t had any direct contact from Socceroo boss Ange Postecoglou, but making the team to Brazil for this year’s World Cup remains a dream.

“It’s something that, even since I was in that squad that’s what everyone dreams of, of playing in a World Cup,” he said.

 “Whether or not it’s just too soon, that’s what I’m trying to prove is not. I want to show that I’m ready but at the same time there’s a lot of other international things coming up like the Asian Cup and the Under-23s and Olympic qualifiers and everything, so as long as you keep your performances up I’m just keen to stay as involved the national set-up for as long as I can.”