With Socceroos target Lyndon Dykes now lost to Scotland, the national team net is widening and firmly on the radar for the future is Wolfsburg II’s hot-streak striker John Iredale.
Back in action, and in form, after successive stress fractures in the same foot sidelined him for a total of 16 months, the 21-year-old Olyroos marksman could be a surprise call-up if Australia are able to lock in a friendly international in London in November.
Thirteen goals in his last 14 appearances for the Bundesliga club’s reserves - who play in Germany’s fourth tier - has not gone unnoticed, with Socceroos assistant Rene Meulensteen in regular contact with the Sydney FC product.
Iredale showed his penchant for goal scoring with 10 in 13 for Heerenveen II in Holland before the injury first surfaced, sidelining him for five months and effectively ending his hopes of a contract extension.
A three-day trial with Wolfsburg won him a deal there - and he was on the cusp on a senior call-up before he re-injured the foot again 11 months ago.
“I’m just happy to be out there again after all the setbacks,” said Iredale. “Rene has been checking on me and keeping in touch and that’s a nice thing.
“For me, I just want to keep doing well and I have high expectations this season.
“It was unfortunate getting injured a second time but I think I have chance to break through if I keep scoring, and I’m still working on getting back to full fitness and form.
“I’m not quite ready to play 90 minutes just yet.”
Iredale is off contract at the end of the season - and with the Olympics looming up next July needs to make a statement to a wider audience, should Wolfsburg opt not to retain him.
“It’s a big year for me and with it can come a lot of opportunities, whether that means staying at Wolfsburg or maybe other clubs looking at me,” he explained.
“I spoke with the club before the season started, and the focus then was just to get playing again. I think we might speak again in the coming weeks.
“I have to try and make it easier for myself by playing well.
“It would be a great place to stay ... the club were in the Europa League last year and have a game coming up to try and qualify again.
“You can see the pace is much quicker in the first team, technically the gap isn’t huge, but the speed of everything is.
“I get the feeling the coaching staff like me - they were as upset as I was when I got injured again last year because I was really close to going up with the first team.
“I have no doubt when I’m fully fit the chance will come again and I just have to be ready to take it.”
Iredale was part of a Socceroos training camp in Turkey under his former Sky Blues boss Graham Arnold back in 2018.
Reflecting on several missed chances in the green and gold since, he hopes he’s put all the ill fortune behind him.
“It sucks that I’ve missed a lot with the national team football (like Olympic qualifying) but I’m aiming to be at all future camps and I’m going to do everything I can to be at Tokyo next year,” he said.
“For sure, the aim is to get a Socceroos call-up (at some point). But I need to stay fit to give myself the best chance possible.
“It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do growing up (in Sydney’s north west).
“With the injuries I’ve learned a lot about mental toughness and I’ve taken a lot of positives away from it. I’m better after it than I was before.”
Meulensteen spoke with Iredale last week and is closely monitoring the strides he’s making.
“He’s definitely one we need to keep an eye on and we’re pleased to see him back in action,” he said.
“He’s scoring goals - and that breeds confidence.”