Millwall defender on Australia call-up: 'I've worked hard for years and deserve it'

JAMES Meredith feels he deserves his international call-up – and praised the influence on him of "Australian icon" Tim Cahill. 

Both players were this week named by Socceroos coach Bert van Marwijk in a 29-player preliminary squad for this month's international friendlies against Norway in Oslo and Colombia at Fulham's Craven Cottage.

The Lions duo are hoping to make it to the World Cup in Russia – but Meredith isn't getting ahead of himself. He has won two caps for his country, both of them in 2015.

"I don't want to speak too soon, it's still a preliminary squad," Meredith said. "I feel like I'm ready, I've worked hard for years and deserve it. I'm excited.

"For me it's special. If I do get a chance to play it's to serve your country. It's an opportunity for my family and close friends at home to see what I've got, they don't get to see me play very often.

"I love it. I'm a total professional and so is Tim, even more so. It's great having him here actually because I'm learning things from him. He's an Australian icon and a legend.

"It's great to have someone like him around with so much experience and influence."

Meredith has started every league game for Millwall this season, while Cahill made his fifth appearance off the bench in the 2-1 win over Hull on Tuesday night, getting booked within 10 seconds of his introduction for attempting to block Allan McGregor's clearance.

Cahill could have scored, but Fred Onyedinma opted to shoot rather than square the ball with Millwall defending their lead late in the game.

Meredith, though, didn't criticise his young colleague.

He said: "It happens sometimes, you've got to make those decisions in games. But I'm really happy with all the team. We're playing well, there is a really good atmosphere and team morale is high. I think we are going from strength to strength.

"It's great to see Tim throwing himself about, just great to see him on the pitch. Him and Steve [Morison] did well, they're very experienced guys. Every second helps in those scenarios when we're under pressure a bit."

Meredith's excellent form this season has put him right in the frame to end the season with a fairytale trip to Russia.

He is happy with the way his move to the Lions from Bradford has worked out, only wishing he had done it sooner.  "I had more than a bit of interest last summer, had offers from Championship clubs. At first I wasn't completely sure I had made the right decision but soon after I was thinking I wish I had made this move years ago."

Image: Millwall FC

John Kelly