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MALACCA: Being the smallest fish in the pond is an unfamiliar feeling for Jackson Irvine, but the Socceroos midfielder can already feel the benefits of hard yards at Hull City.
Irvine believes his game has lifted exponentially since joining the Tigers a month ago from fellow English Championship side Burton Albion, who netted a club-record fee for their player of the year.
The 24-year-old has made two starts in his three games and earned mixed reviews, partly because manager Leonid Slutsky gave him his home debut in a deeper role than he had been accustomed to under Nigel Clough.
But it’s all part of the long-term plan for Irvine who is relishing training with “top players” and competing each week for a spot.
“It’s great, it’s the reason I wanted to make the move and a new challenge, the standard technically and the day-to-day of the club is entirely different,” Irvine said.
“I want to push myself outside my comfort zone and test myself, and playing amongst three or four other international midfielders to try and get a game, that’s the competition.
“You just have to keep pushing and when you get your opportunity, take it. I can feel it lifting my game already. Day to day it’s a different level altogether.
“I’ve had to deal with an entirely new set of challenges, playing with top players, being at a big club environment and being thrown in and out of the team at times.”
It is much the same in Socceroos camp in Malaysia, where Irvine will fight for a place in Australia’s fiercely competitive midfield for Thursday’s opening World Cup qualifying play-off leg against Syria.
Helping is the fact he sat out the weekend’s 6-1 win over Birmingham.
“This is probably the best I’ve felt coming into a camp in the last couple of years,” he said.
“I think it’s the first time I haven’t played on a Saturday and then had to deal with the flight, so I’m feeling good and ready to go.”
Originally published as How tough club switch has Socceroo thriving
Source: sports dailytelegraph