Spiranovic ready to make his mark
Matthew Spiranovic has declared himself ready to nail down a spot in the heart of Australia's defence in his new backyard in Qatar.
With rivals Sasa Ognenovski and Jason Davidson sidelined, the young central defender is poised to line up alongside captain Lucas Neill in Tuesday's (Wednesday AM AEDT) World Cup qualifier against Iraq in Doha.
The match will be played at Grand Hamad Stadium, the home ground of Spiranovic's new club Al Arabi.
After falling out of favour at Japanese club Urawa Red Diamonds, Spiranovic has been reinvigorated by his move to Qatar last month.
"I am 24 and relatively young but I have been a part of the Socceroos since I was 18, so I feel like I have done my apprenticeship and I am ready to play," he said.
The athletic Victorian has never quite been able to cement his spot in the Australian team despite 15 appearances.
Socceroos coach Holger Osieck is a big fan and will be looking for him to tighten up one of the national team's major problem areas.
Spiranovic said he had received offers from European clubs but had not been prepared to spend anymore time warming benches.
He said the combination of guaranteed playing time and money had swayed him to head to the Middle East.
"As a footballer you can only play this game for a certain number of years," he said.
"Financially it has to be in your interest and that does come into consideration and the other side I wanted to be playing regularly.
"So when I put all those things together, this was the best option for me."
Osieck earlier this month raised concerns about the number of Australian players being lured to the Middle East by big pay days.
National team stalwarts Neill and Mark Bresciano have been joined by Alex Brosque, Ognenovski and Spiranovic in recent months.
However Spiranovic said the standard of the league was "pleasantly surprising".
"The standard is quite high and there are no easy games," he said.