DUNDEE UNITED'S Curtis Good is relishing the prospect of locking horns with his fellow Australian Jackson Irvine when Kilmarnock visit Tannadice today - while also hoping the pair will be squad-mates at the World Cup in Brazil this summer.
Good, the defender on loan on Tayside from Newcastle, is a long-time friend of the midfielder, himself on loan at Rugby Park from Celtic and an Australia under-20 team-mate. Good, 20, said: "Jackson has been at the wind-up with the texts this week. He's pretty confident he's going to win but I tend to disagree.
"We lived about two minutes away from each other growing up in Melbourne. We didn't go to the same school but were always in the same Knox City team so it will be strange on Saturday.
"We both played in midfield back then and I'd say we were on a par in terms of ability. We had a good partnership in the middle of the park and dominated the leagues. After Knox, I went to Canberra and Jackson came to Scotland. There's a rule in Australia that you can't move abroad unless you're over 18 or have heritage in that country and Jackson's Scottish background made it possible to leave when he was 16.
"I stayed in Australia and played in the A-League [with Melbourne Heart], then I came over and our paths crossed again. I spoke to Jackson before I came to Scotland and he spoke very highly of it and said it was a good experience.
"We recently played together for Australia's Under-20s at the World Cup in Turkey. We went out at the group stage after games against Colombia, Turkey and El Salvador, which was disappointing but it was still an unbelievable experience.
"The build-up to it was great and good exposure for us. It gave us a real incentive to step up and play for the full team at the World Cup proper which is the ultimate ambition.
"The national team coaches have been keeping in touch with us as much as possible. In recent years Australia have really tightened up in that department because they can't afford to miss out on young talent playing overseas in the bigger leagues.
"You're always hopeful for an outside chance of making the World Cup squad. There have been a few injuries in my position so all you can do is keep playing for your club and hope for the opportunity.
"Lucas Neill hasn't been playing and then Rhys Williams picked up an injury and is 50-50 for the World Cup, so it's just a case of crossing your fingers. There's a game against Ecuador in the next international break with the squad likely to be named next week."
Also hoping to be turning out for his country during that break is Kilmarnock's Kris Boyd. The striker returned to the Scotland fold with a late call-up to the squad for last November's encounter with Norway and is likely to be in Gordon Strachan's thoughts for the friendly against Poland in Warsaw on March 5.
Boyd said: "To be called up for Scotland the last time was great because you listen to people saying you are doing well but it's not until you get a bit of recognition like that that you believe: 'well, yeah, I might be getting back'. There is a wee while to go but I feel as if I have consistently performed since then. I want to be involved and I look forward to the squad being named. I'm 30 now and I'm over being left out of big games, I'm over being left out of squads. If it happens, it happens and will come into training and work again and be ready to do the business for Kilmarnock. But I look forward to the squad being named and hope I am part of it because I feel I can give a lot for Scotland now.
"I know there are a lot of quality strikers out there, but scoring goals week in, week out is something I give. A lot of the other strikers bring a lot more to the game than what I do but I know that when it comes down to finishing there are not a lot who will compete with me."
Boyd, meanwhile, is focused on helping Kilmarnock to continue to climb the table. "Where we were at the start of the season was tough for us," he said. "But we always felt if we got a good run together we were as good as Dundee United, Inverness, Hibs and St Johnstone. We know we can beat teams below us and the next test is to beat the teams above us. We have only beaten one team in the top six, which is not good enough. If we want to be in the top six then we need to start getting results."