Michael Zullo’s future at Utrecht will be determined before the end of the month with the Australia left-back admitting he has little idea whether the Eredivisie outfit will activate a two-year contract extension.
Recalled to Australia’s starting line-up for the recent international against Romania, Zullo, 24, is hungry for regular first team football at club level as he bids to secure a starting role for the Socceroos before the FIFA 2014 World Cup.
But whether or not that will be at Utrecht – the club he joined from Brisbane Roar along with Tommy Oar and Adam Sarota in 2010 - remains “up in the air”, according to the player himself.
After making his 20th appearance of the season for sixth-placed Utrecht in last weekend’s 2-1 loss to PSV Eindhoven, he declared: “My agent is due to meet with the club next week to discuss the situation and I would like to stay, if that is possible.
“Things are up in the air right now. The club has the right to activate the extension or not to – so it’s in their hands.
“It's a good club and I am settled there, especially with Tommy Oar and Adam Sarota as my team-mates.
“The reality is that I want to be playing games because that will give me my best chance of staying involved with the Socceroos.
“Obviously I have been in and out a bit at Utrecht (having overcome persistent groin problems over the past two seasons) and I now feel I’m possibly in the best shape I’ve been in and I am playing as well as ever.”
Whatever the outcome of Zullo’s summit with the club’s hierarchy, he has vowed to remain in Europe, rather than opt for Asia or even a return to the A-League.
“I hope Europe is where my future lies for the time being at least,” he said.
“Europe is the highest level possible and that’s where I need to be – I think it’s the best place for me to improve and continue to learn as a player.
“Of course, if something came up in Asia you would look at it but it’s definitely not in my thinking.”
Deployed as a left-sided utility by Utrecht, Zullo came off the bench after only seven minutes against PSV to fill in at left back after an ankle injury to his rival for that spot David Bulthuis – and he could now get an extended run in the team.
“I really need a few games under my belt to get my match rhythm going into our World Cup qualifier against Oman next month (26 March in Sydney),” he added.
“That’s an absolutely massive game and we know a win would bring qualification a little step closer. It’s a game we must win.
“I think I did okay against Romania after not starting for the national team for a while and I obviously want to build on that, given the chance.”
While fellow Socceroos team-mate Adam Sarota’s season has been wrecked by a serious knee ligament injury, the dynamic Oar returned from his recent hamstring injury with a 15-minute cameo off the bench against PSV to give a welcome boost to Australia coach Holger Osieck.
Oar had been penciled in for significant game time in the 3-2 loss to Romania after his recent impressive performances for his country and is certain to be recalled for the Oman game, assuming he is fit.
“Tommy looked good and will only get better with more game time,” added Zullo.
“He’d been out for six weeks, so it was great to see him back again.”
New York Red Bulls coach Mike Petke admitted his concern over the fitness of star Australia forward Tim Cahill, who is recovering from a hamstring injury.