Tarek Elrich says taking on the “world-class” attacking talent in the Villareal side is the perfect platform to help him break into the Socceroos starting XI for next month’s World Cup qualifier.
Adelaide United takes on the Spanish La Liga outfit at Coopers Stadium on Friday night in the start of a huge few weeks for the Reds defender.
Elrich was on Monday named in Ange Postecoglou’s 23-man Socceroos squad for the start of their path to Russia 2018 against Kyrgyzstan on June 16.
Villareal are bringing a strong squad Down Under which includes nine internationals and an array of attacking stars for Elrich and his teammates to have to contend with.
They include the likes of Mexican star Giovani Dos Santos, Costa Rican international Joel Campbell, Argentine Luciano Vietto and Gerard Moreno.
“A few of the boys might be thinking ‘this season has dragged on and we have to play Villareal now’, but for me it’s a good thing,” Elrich told reporters on Tuesday.
“Obviously I’m keeping fit and playing with the boys and playing against a quality side. Villareal is not going to be easy.
“It will be another good test for the team and myself. They have a lot of dangerous players, I know a few of the players in terms of what they have done in their careers.
“Guys like Dos Santos is world class. [Our Spanish coaching staff] has mentioned a few others and have just said ‘have fun playing against them’. It’s going to be a good challenge.”
Elrich is desperate to put his best foot forward against Villareal with a huge chance to win a starting berth for the Socceroos against Kyrgyzstan.
The 28-year-old has had a superb season in the Hyundai A-League, one of the most consistent defenders in the competition as well as scoring the goal of the season.
A lack of football for club-less Ivan Franjic has opened the door for Elrich to possibly win a starting berth at right-back for that first World Cup qualifier.
“Ange [Postecoglou] has said he’s picked it on form. It’s the strongest side he can pick and it’s an honour to be included in that,” Elrich said.
“When I got my chance against Macedonia, it was a proud moment and once I got a taste of that I wanted more. To be a part of my first World Cup qualifier is great.
“Franjic has been doing a great job for Ange but for me it’s about keeping fit, working hard here with my club and when I’m there to give it my all and try and impress.”