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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 July 2006, 09:54 GMT 10:54 UK
Wilkshire looks for new challenge
By Chris Bevan

Luke Wilkshire
Wilkshire began his career as a trainee at Middlesbrough
Australian World Cup star Luke Wilkshire is looking to play at a higher level after ending his spell with League One side Bristol City.

The 24-year-old midfielder has been linked with Sheffield United, Leeds United and clubs on the continent.

Wilkshire told BBC Sport: "I want to fulfil my ambitions and have more opportunities with the national team.

"I have a young family and my preference is to stay in England but it all depends on the clubs involved."

He added: "I'm on the other side of the world from home anyhow so for me to go a couple of hours flight from England would not be too difficult for me."

Wilkshire is a free agent after his contract at Ashton Gate expired last month.

He only returned to the UK from a post-World Cup holiday on Sunday and admits he is in the dark about which clubs have shown an interest in him.

"I don't really know about the speculation," he added. "My agent is dealing with things at the moment."

Wilkshire was born in Wollongong but left Australia aged 17 to join Middlesbrough, where he made 24 appearances before joining City for 250,000 in 2003.

Guus Hiddink is not your average manager. He is probably one of the best coaches in the world, if not the best

Luke Wilkshire

He struggled to make an impact for the Robins but still did enough to impress Guus Hiddink, who brought him into the Australia squad and took him to Germany where he played against Japan and Italy.

"I played several games in the Premiership in my time at Middlesbrough and I am confident I can play at a higher level," Wilkshire said.

"Guus showed faith in me by picking me for Australia while I was playing in League One and hopefully I can repay that and show people what I am capable of.

"Funny as it may seem, I did find it easier playing at a higher level than I did in League One at times. It is a hard league and the best way I can put it is that it didn't really suit my style of play."

Since the World Cup, Hiddink - who is now in charge of Russia - has told Wilkshire he should make the most of his potential.

The former Holland, Real Madrid and PSV Eindhoven coach has offered to recommend Wilkshire to clubs in Europe should he decide to leave the UK.

Wilkshire said: "It is a real boost to hear that.

"Guus is not your average manager. He is probably one of the best coaches in the world, if not the best.

"To have someone of his stature saying things about you like that is very flattering."

SEE ALSO
Russia make Hiddink appointment
12 Apr 06 |  Internationals
Wilkshire ends Ashton Gate spell
03 Jul 06 |  Bristol City


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