|By PADDY HIGGS
Chief editor - Australia
Australia international Michael Zullo is confident he will get his chance to push his first-team claims at FC Utrecht after the Eredivisie club elected to take up a two-year option in the left-back's contract.
With his contract up at the end of the 2012-13 season, Zullo's struggles to hold down a first-team spot at Utrecht had led to doubts on his future.
But the 24-year-old's stint at Utrecht has been extended they after activated the clause in his deal, ensuring the Australian contingent at the club - along with housemates Tommy Oar and Adam Sarota - remains at three.
Zullo told Goal Australia the key part to talks between himself, his management and the club had centered around increased first-team opportunities: "The option the club has taken up is for two more years and [I] always said that I liked everything about the club and the people around the club - the only concern I had was playing time," he said.
"So when we were discussing the contract situation, playing time was literally the only issue. The management and training staff have given me clear indications regarding the chances I will get in the future and they're still very positive about their confidence in me as a player.
"So hopefully that will all come to fruition. I think Holland is the perfect place for any young player to come to work on their technique and learn to play football properly."
Zullo has made five starts in 11 league appearances, having had to wait patiently for opportunities behind first-choice left-back Davy Bulthuis.
He has made 38 appearances in all competitions since joining Utrecht from Brisbane Roar in April 2010 as part of a package deal also including Oar and Sarota.
Zullo made his first start for the Socceroos in February's friendly against Romania in 15 months, and knows his fortunes at Utrecht impact directly on his international ambitions.
"I've worked tirelessly in the last 12 months technically and physically, and I feel like an immensely better footballer now than when I left Australia," Zullo said.
"Hopefully that improvement continues and I get the opportunities to show it both for Utrecht and the Socceroos."