Five Championship big guns in hunt for Irvine

Socceroos midfielder Jackson Irvine Source: Getty Images

Socceroos midfielder Jackson Irvine could conceivably have played his last game for Burton Albion, with a bevy of the English Championship's wealthiest clubs vying for his signature.

The Brewers' player of the year is in camp with the Socceroos with his mind focused on Thursday night's defining World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia at the Adelaide Oval.

But back in England, the 24-year-old has become hot property after a breakout season in which his 10 league goals, and commanding performances, were instrumental in saving newly-promoted Burton from a quick return to League One.

Informed sources are confident that the box-to-box dynamo will be a step closer to his dream of playing in the Premier League in the near future by signing for one of the Championship's heavyweights during the northern summer transfer window.

It's understood that Mile Jedinak's Aston Villa, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Derby County, Sheffield Wednesday and Fulham all covet Irvine, who despite his heroics for Burton knows he must move to a bigger club to continue his upward career arc.

Irvine proved he was not motivated by money by rejecting a $160,000-a-week deal to defect to the Chinese Super League in January.

But he is motivated by the prospect of testing himself in the Premier League, and switching to one of the Championship's elite clubs could provide that platform.

The former Celtic, Kilmarnock and Ross County man has two years remaining on his three-season Burton deal, but the modest Midlands club will not be able to hold their top earner if one of the cashed-up Championship clubs makes a serious bid.

Irvine, who is in the mix for a third successive Socceroos start against the Saudis in the must-win contest, is remaining circumspect over his club future.

"It's a long pre-season and a long transfer window and as I always maintain I have two years left at Burton and if anything realistic happens you address that as it comes," he reiterated.

"Then you make decisions you feel will be best at that time.

"I just want to continue to progress ... you want to get to the highest level possible.

"For me, it's about playing in the top division at the top level in Europe,

"Growing up (in Melbourne) I watched a lot of the Premier league and it would be a dream to play in that league one day.

"But at this point in time the Championship is arguably one of the biggest leagues in the world.

"I think it's the fifth most watched competition right now and you can see the calibre of player and teams in this division, so it's a great place to continue to learn."

The key for Irvine will be to move to a club with greater expectations but also somewhere he is able to play regularly, as was the case at Burton where he made 42 appearances in his debut Championship season.