READY TO STRIKE: Burns hot to trot for Asian Cup

ON THE BALL: Blayney’s Nathan Burns takes the ball forward for the Wellington Phoenix during their 1-0 A -League win over the Western Sydney Wanderers on Sunday. He is now in camp with the Socceroos. Photo: GETTY IMAGESBLAYNEY’S Nathan Burns knows there will be competition even before the AFC Asian Cup starts in January.

Burns had a light training session with the Socceroos squad in Melbourne yesterday but knows things will heat up ahead of the national team’s opening Asian Cup match again Kuwait on January 9.

The A-League’s leading goal scorer is focused on being named in the Socceroos’ starting 11 for the tournament.

“I’d love to obviously start. I’m going to push for that. That’s what everyone’s here to do. No one’s here to just sit on the bench,” Burns said yesterday.

“I’m going to push for a starting position. I think everyone will tell you they’re taking this tournament very seriously and they want to be in that starting 11.”

The 26-year-old knows there will be plenty of competition from within the 23-man squad to earn those starting spots.

Burns has been tipped as a realistic chance to earn a starting place in the national team on the back of his outstanding start to the 2014-15 A-League season in which he has netted 10 goals for the Wellington Phoenix so far.

He puts his success this season down to solid preparation.

“I think it was just the good pre-season. I haven’t had a good pre-season for a few years,” he explained.

“Last year when I came back for Newcastle, I came back a couple of weeks before the season started.

“The good thing this year is I got a whole pre-season and no injuries and haven’t been missing any trainings, so it makes a big difference when the body’s feeling good.”

His form has caught the eye of Australia’s highest profile player – Tim Cahill.

“Burnsy’s form has been fantastic,” Cahill said this week.

“I’m really impressed with what he’s produced and now it’s about how we can translate that together as a team to make him perform at international level.”

It’s no surprise the Blayney product was excited to hear those words.

“Obviously Tim is one of he biggest players in Australian football. To hear those comments was pretty good,” Burns said.

“To play with him would be fantastic and everyone else in the squad – there’s a lot of talent here. I think if we can get together and click there’ll be some really good attacking football.”

Burns is no stranger to the Asia Cup. He was part of the Socceroos squad which reached the final in 2011 but lost to Japan 1-0 in Qatar.

While it’s been four years since he last pulled on the national colours, Burns said he always thought he could return to the Socceroos.

“I knew if I keep plugging away and kept playing good football there’s always that window,” he said.

“Ange [Postecoglou] has given a lot of players some great opportunities on form, so I knew if I kept going, hopefully I’d get the opportunity.”

Burns enjoyed a light training run with the Socceroos yesterday after helping the Phoenix to a 1-0 win over the Western Sydney Wanderers on Sunday.

The AFC Asian Cup will be played in Australia and will run from January 9 – 31.

Australia is in Group A with Kuwait, Korea Republic and Oman.

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