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Jun 20, 2008

Djite poised to make Socceroos debut

Bruce Djite's meteoric rise is set to continue when he lines up alongside Harry Kewell for his first international start in Sunday's World Cup qualifier against China.

It was only 18 months ago Djite was fighting for a full-time contract with A-League side Adelaide United.

But such were his impressive performances in the A-League and in the under 23s Olympic squad that he inevitably attracted interest from overseas and signed with Turkish side Genclerbirligi last month.

Now he is a regular in Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek's training camps and is almost certain to start on Sunday in front of almost 75,000 people after three appearances as a substitute.

With Australia's progress to the next qualification stage assured, Verbeek has rested key stars including Vince Grella, Mark Bresciano, Brett Emerton and Brett Holman, opting to give a stack of young players a chance.

It's handed a big chance to Washington DC-born Djite, who was also eligible to represent the US, Ivory Coast and Togo.

"I wouldn't say surprised, well maybe I am a bit surprised," said Djite of his rapid rise to prominence.

"There's a lot of hard work you put into these things and to get a start if it does happen I'll be ecstatic."

The highlight of the experience for Djite has been the chance to work alongside Kewell, who he has trained beside since joining camp on Thursday.

"Just training with him is a great experience, so if I play Sunday night it would be a dream come true for me," Djite said.

"He's always giving me good advice, just watching him play you can learn so much and whenever you do talk to him he's always got positive things to say.

"It's not so much learning directly from him, like a teacher-student type relationship, but more recognising what he does and when he does it."

Verbeek's decision to include a large contingent of the under 23s squad that will contest the Beijing Games in August would prove invaluable, according to Djite.

"With the Olympics coming up it's important to get as much game time as possible," Djite said.

"So this game is not just important in the Socceroos sense but also important for the Olympic side too."

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