Brett Emerton said he hasn’t given up hope of winning a spot back in the Australia squad in future.
Emerton was overlooked by Socceroos boss Holger Osieck for Tuesday night’s vital World Cup qualifier against Oman at ANZ Stadium.
While disappointed to have lost his position as a Socceroos regular of late, his omission means Emerton is free to turn out for Sydney FC in Saturday night’s highly-anticipated A-League derby with Western Sydney.
“Obviously I would have loved to have been involved in this (Socceroos) game but at this stage it’s an important time of the season for us here at Sydney,” Emerton said on Friday.
“I’ll need to concentrate purely on playing well for Sydney and making sure we get in the top six and hopefully go on from there.
“I’ve been around for a while and I’m used to these big matches and it’s something which you thrive on as a footballer.
“You just go out there and approach it as any other game but hopefully my experience will count for something and hopefully I can help my team get the upper hand.”
By his own admission, Emerton has struggled to consistently display his best form for the Sky Blues over the last two seasons but the 34-year-old is confident he can turn things around.
“I’m experienced enough to know that throughout your career, you can’t play well all the time,” Emerton said.
“It’s just one of those things, when you do have drops in form the only way to get out of it, is to work hard and keep believing in your abilities and things will turn around.
“Both teams have got a lot riding on the game and it’s going to be a fiery one and one which I’m really looking forward to.
“As a player, this is what you play football (for).”
Sydney are currently in fifth spot but need the three points to improve their hopes of making the finals.
But they face a tough task against a Wanderers side on a 10-game winning streak and looking to secure the Premiers’ Plate against their bitter rivals.
Asked what Sydney needed to do to overcome the all-conquering Wanderers, Emerton said: “First we need to defend well.
“That’s something which Western Sydney have done exceptionally well this season, so I think we need to be hard to break down and compact as I’m sure they will be.
“I think it might be a low scoring affair, but I’m sure it will be an entertaining one.”
Sydney coach Frank Farina has confirmed Socceroos skipper Lucas Neill will return to the starting side now he has recovered from his calf injury.
Neill has missed the last two matches and will replace either Adam Griffiths or Tiago Calvano in the centre of defence.
Farina is still to decide which goalkeeper will start after Ivan Necevski starred in the draw with Melbourne Victory last week after he was a last-minute replacement for regular number one Vedran Janjetovic.
Janjetovic was dumped for arriving at the ground late after he was stuck in heavy traffic.
Skipper Terry McFlynn will miss a second straight match due to a nagging hamstring injury.