01/03/2024

John Iredale's call-up to the Socceroos Asian Cup squad is the first of his senior career (Image credit: @fabicordts on Instagram/Design: Theo Dimou)

Sydney-born Socceroos forward John Iredale received his first senior call-up to the men’s national side in late December, selected by coach Graham Arnold to make the trip to Qatar for the upcoming Asian Cup.

The road to the Socceroos’ Asian Cup squad hasn’t been an easy one for the 24-year-old Centre Forward, who suffered a foot injury in 2019 shortly after making Graham Arnold’s first training camp as Australian Head Coach.

However, after scoring two goals in five starts and 12 total appearances for SV Wehen Wiesbaden in Germany’s second division so far this season, Iredale has secured his seat on the plane to Qatar.

Named as one of three uncapped players to join the Socceroos in early 2024, Iredale’s inclusion has come as a surprise for some of those unfamiliar with his game. However, he made it clear that his call-up was no shock personally in an exclusive interview with The Inner Sanctum.

“A call-up would no longer come as a surprise, but more of a reward for all the hard work,” Iredale said.

“I’ve been working hard for years to be able to fulfil a dream of representing my country that I’ve had since I was a young boy.

“After my call with Graham Arnold, I was able to share the news with my family straight away. It’s safe to say we were all over the moon, it was a very proud moment for myself and my parents.”

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After reaching the knock-out rounds of the FIFA World Cup for only the second time last year, the Green and Gold will look to continue their fine form at the Asian Cup, starting against India on January 13.

With an abundance of top-quality players fighting for a handful of spots in the starting 11, one of the biggest strengths at Australia’s disposal right now is the squad depth that currently makes up the senior side.

Unfortunately, not everyone can make the squad for the FIFA World Cup in two years, making this month’s Asian Cup all the more important for players to impress Arnold, a goal that Iredale has set out to achieve.

“Our squad depth is a huge strength, because we will need every single player to play their part for us to be successful,” Iredale said.

“I want the Asian Cup to be the first step towards being a regular in the national team set-up, so I’m not using this as just an experience.

“I want to make the absolute most of the situation I’m in and play a big role in helping this team make our country proud at such a big tournament.”

Iredale was a part of Graham Arnold’s first training camp just after taking the reins from Bert van Marwijk in 2018, and is confident the longest-serving men’s national side coach was keeping a close eye on him.

“Graham Arnold and I have always had a good relationship, but it’s not like we are in contact all the time,” Iredale said.

“Since my first call-up at the end of 2018 when I was much younger and less experienced, I’ve had a rough ride but always stayed focused and disciplined.

“So I’m sure Graham has been keeping an eye on me and waiting for me to be ready, and I can finally say I am.”

At the Asian Cup squad announcement, the Socceroos boss spoke highly of Iredale and stated what made him earn his selection for the first time in his career.

“He’s one that I’ve admired for a long time, because he’s got that strength and skill,” Arnold said.

“He’s starting to do well in the Bundesliga Two, he can play not only as a number nine but also a ten and a seven.

“It gives us more variety in the front line as well and as I’ve said, I’ve obviously got one eye on the Asian Cup, but I’ve got two eyes on the World Cup and qualifying directly.”

John Iredale and the Socceroos get their Asian Cup campaign underway when they face India on January 13 at the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, before ending the group stage against Syria on the 18th and Uzbekistan five days later.

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