Flexible Irvine looming as a key part of Caltex Socceroos’ title defence
He’s made a career out of being versatile but you won’t hear Jackson Irvine complaining as he looks to once again be an ever-reliable part of the Caltex Socceroos squad.
The midfielder, who plays his club football for Hull City in the English Championship, has carved out a reputation as a flexible player capable of performing a number of roles, including as a defensive protector of the back four and a goal-scoring number 10.
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Throw in the absence of midfield stalwarts Mile Jedinak (retirement) and Aaron Mooy (injury) and Irvine looks set to be an important figure throughout the Caltex Socceroos’ AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019tm campaign.
Not that he minds how exactly he fits into the bigger picture.
“I’m here to contribute in any way the manager sees I can contribute most effectively but it’s good to know that you have that versatility,” said Irvine.
“I’ve played a number of positions this season for club and country. I’ve played as a six, as an eight in front of one holding midfielder, and as a number 10.
“I played a number of games on the left-hand side of midfield as well, so it’s good for the gaffer to know that I can fill in a number of these positions.
“It’s just about contributing and everyone playing their role, and I’m sure over the course of the tournament over different stages players will be required in different positions.”
He scored his second goal for his country with a bullet header in the friendly against Norway in Oslo in March 2018 (below), and Irvine has been in sparkling form for Hull City of late, scoring twice in their latest win over Preston North End in the Championship.
The 25-year old said the rigorous nature of the league had taken the physical and mental side of his game to a whole new level.
“It’s a ruthless league in the sense that it doesn’t give you that opportunity for optimal recovery at times when you are playing three or four games in a very short space of time,” he said.
“It definitely helps mentally being able to recover quicker. That plays a massive part, knowing when you’ve got a massive game coming up in a few days just being mentally ready to go again.”