Mile Jedinak could be playing the biggest game of his career next Wednesday night, as Australia take on Uzbekistan in a potentially decisive World Cup qualifier.
The Socceroos could clinch a place at the 2010 World Cup with a victory against the Uzbeks, as long as other results go their way in Group A of the Asian qualifying sector.
Last to qualify for the 2006 World Cup in Germany under Guus Hiddink, Australia could be the first team to secure their passage to South Africa.
And Turkey-based Jedinak is one player who has emerged as a recent contender for a place in Pim Verbeek’s 2010 squad, set to replace injured defensive midfielder Vince Grella next week.
Since securing a move to Genclerbirligi in January, the former Central Coast Mariners midfield man has played every minute of every game for his new club, where he lines up alongside fellow Aussies James Troisi and Bruce Djite.
“So far the competition has been a great step up for me and I’ve enjoyed my time there,” Jedinak said. “I think I have settled in there quite comfortably; I feel right at home which is great.
“One thing I really wanted to do when I got there was to settle down as quickly as possible."
Jedinak was recently singled out by Pim Verbeek in an exclusive to Goal.com, his importance emphasised in the wake of Grella’s absence.
“He is doing well, I need him in the midfield since Grella is not there,” Verbeek said.
Fellow Socceroo and international veteran Jason Culina also hinted that he and Jedinak could play in the two holding midfield positions that Aussie coach Verbeek favours.
“I think he is good enough to play now; we could possibly play in midfield together,” Culina said.
The 24-year-old Jedinak also returned the praise to his ex-Sydney united team-mate.
He continued, “I admire Jason, I’ve known him now for a while, I followed him in his Sydney United days when I was there as a youngster, watching him train and stuff.”
Jedinak also feels he made the right decision moving to Turkey with a place in Verbeek’s World Cup squad a reality.
“You always have the national team in your mind when you make these decisions,” Jedinak said.
“It was a big factor for me; I want to try and play as much as I can for the national team and I knew that moving to Turkey, the opportunity would be a lot greater than if I was to stay in Australia.”
The Genclerbirligi player also said that the presence of his fellow countrymen has made his transition into Turkish football a smoother one.
He continued, “It’s good to see Bruce and James, I’ve known them for a while now.
“Having them there was a great thing for me, it helped me settle in a lot quicker, they showed me the ropes and just having them around is good.
“We are always spending time together, it’s always good to have your own people around you.
“It’s going good for them, the boys are doing fantastic.”
With Italy-based midfielder Carl Valeri being the other option for the second holding midfield role alongside Jason Culina in Verbeek’s 4-2-3-1 formation, Jedinak realises his starting place is not assured in Sydney.
“I got to have a lot of competition here, with great players around me,” he said. “Carl Valeri is the same age as me, we have played in the under-20s together.
“Hopefully if I get an opportunity I can cement my place in the team.
“Until then there are players in front of me; I’m not going to look ahead of myself too much.”
Con Stamacostas, Goal.com