EXCLUSIVE: Neil Kilkenny column

'I am hoping to win back my  place in the Australia squad'
'I am hoping to win back my place in the Australia squad'
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Representing Australia has to go down as probably the biggest honour of my football career.

I made my debut for the Green and Golds in 2006 under Guus Hiddink in a 3-1 win over Liechtenstein in Ulm, Germany.

So it’s a major bone of contention for me that I have not played for the Socceroos since 2011.

It was a huge goal of mine to get selected for the World Cup this summer in Brazil.

Like my PNE team-mate Bailey Wright – who of course went on to be picked in the 23-man World Cup squad – I was hoping to force my way into the reckoning through my performances for Preston.

I felt that my displays last season warranted a call-up for either a pre-tournament friendly or a training camp.

At the very least, I felt I deserved a chance to show national coach Ange Postecoglou exactly what I was capable of.

Unfortunately, I have yet to be named in a squad by Postecoglou since he took control in 2013. I don’t know why that is but it is a driving ambition of mine to win favour with the Socceroos coach.

I was extremely disappointed to not even make the recent 46-man squad – named in preparation for the forthcoming Asia Cup, which takes place Down Under next month.

I actually played for Australia in the last Asia Cup in Qatar in 2011. I came on as sub in every game and did well.

The squad will have to be halved for next year’s tournament and I have to concede that getting into the final 23-man squad would have been a tough – although realistic – challenge.

But for me to not even be named in the provisional 46-man squad is plain wrong in my opinion.

I know football is all about opinions and is very subjective but the fact that I am playing regularly at the top end of League One should be good enough to see me in the squad.

No disrespect to some of the players who have been selected – I wish them all the best – but I feel like I am playing at a far better standard of football than many of them, who are playing in Australia’s domestic league.

The A-League – which is the premier football league in Australia – is rising in popularity and quality every year.

But it’s certainly not on a par in terms of standard with the English league.

People outside this country might think that I am playing in the third tier of English football and the standard is not very high.

But as we all know, the quality and standard is very good and certainly better than many top divisions in other countries.

I have played hundreds of games already at Championship level for Birmingham City, Leeds United and Bristol City.

In my opinion, I am playing at a Championship-standard club here at Preston now.

I believe the top five or six teams in League One are good enough for the division above and if you consider the quality of the players we have here that is definitely true.

Look at the teams who won promotion from our division last season, Brentford are two points off the top, Wolves are in mid-table – there’s only Rotherham, who are struggling but even they are outside the relegation zone.

I am so passionate about playing for Australia and I hope to convince the Socceroos coach that I am worthy of a place in the squad in the future.

If I can help Preston to promotion this season, then surely my case can’t be ignored.

Although I am Australian, I was actually born in Middlesex.

My parents Janet and Brian are both English but we emigrated to New South Wales when I was only four.

I spent my childhood growing up in Brisbane but it was my promise as a footballer which convinced my mum and dad to move back to North London when I was 11.

They knew there were greater opportunities for me to progress in England and I signed for Arsenal as a schoolboy.

l I would like to wish all PNE fans a Merry Christmas.

I bet you all think that I wish I was back in Oz at this time of the year looking forward to spending Christmas Day on the beach enjoying a few tinnies and a barbecue?

Well you would be wrong!

With my mum and dad being English, we always used to have a traditional English turkey dinner with all the trimmings.

The only difference was we would be outside in the garden eating it!