A step down could ultimately prove a great leap forward for Olyroos and Socceroos hopeful John Iredale, who will be aiming to hone his predatory instincts at second tier SC Paderborn next season after being released by Bundesliga high-flyers Wolfsburg.
With five goals in eight games at the start of the campaign in Germany’s third tier for Wolfsburg II, the former Sydney FC academy striker was stopped in his tracks by COVID-19 when the season was first halted and then finally abandoned.
The 21-year-old was left high and dry, unable to make a compelling case for a contract renewal.
Paderborn, though, stepped in as former Young Socceroo Iredale this week agreed a two-year deal with the club which dropped from the top flight last season but nurse ambitions to quickly boomerang back to the Bundesliga.
Once home to Adelaide United’s Ben Halloran, Paderborn sit ninth on the ladder and are out of the promotion frame for this season.
“They’re a club which has an attacking philosophy and hopefully I can benefit from that and make an impact when I join up with them next season,” said Iredale.
“The biggest thing for me is to be playing first team football.
“Unfortunately at Wolfsburg I was injured in my first year and then COVID came along and I really didn’t get a chance to show myself, and push on to the first team squad.
“Joining Paderborn will put me on a great platform to play senior football and show everyone what I can do.
“The club showed a lot of interest when my name was put out there. We had four talks and I really wanted to take the offer.
“They definitely want to get back up to the first league, there’ll be a new coach next season [though his identity has yet to be revealed] and this is a big chance for me.
“I always back myself but I’ll need to be training hard in pre-season to get to the level I know I can play at, and be challenging for the starting 11 each week.”
Despite his lack of match minutes this season, Iredale is likely to called up for June’s proposed Olyroos camp in Toulon with the prize of a Tokyo Games pass up for grabs.
“The dream is to play in the Olympics (in July) and go to the World Cup next year with the Socceroos,” he added.
“I just want to give myself the best possible opportunity to make these things happen.
“To be on the radar of Socceroos and be a part of the World Cup, I know I need to be playing first team football.”