Kruse up for Socceroos selection fight
Voted top dog by his Australian soccer peers, Robbie Kruse is up for proving himself again for both club and country.
The 25-year-old forward was named Professional Footballers Australia player of the year at the annual Australian Football Awards dinner in Sydney on Wednesday night.
It capped of a memorable year for Kruse, who starred for German club Fortuna Dusseldorf in the 2012-13 season despite the club ultimately being relegated.
Kruse, however, remained in the Bundesliga after moving to Bayer Leverkusen, who qualified for this season's Champions League.
He's also become an increasingly influential and established figure in the Socceroos side.
Regular playing time has proved harder to come by this season in the powerful Leverkusen side, with Kruse starting just two games and coming off the bench in eight.
There is also an element of uncertainty about his Socceroo status, with recently appointed Ange Postecoglou taking over as coach from Holger Osieck, under whom Kruse flourished.
"He (Postecoglou) hasn't spoken to many individual players, I think he's just trying to implement his philosophy at the moment," Kruse told AAP.
"Under Holger I knew I was playing every game and obviously now it's a completely different ball game.
"Everyone starts from scratch and everyone you can see at training was very enthusiastic and trying to impress the boss.
"It's going to be very tough and we have wonderful competition for places."
Kruse is no stranger to having to prove himself.
He say it took him a year at Fortuna to adjust to the change of conditions before hitting his straps last season, and that it could be the same this time around.
The talented forward expressed no concerns about his reduced playing time in a season that concludes with a World Cup.
"I'm so happy at my club, where I am at the moment," Kruse said.
"Obviously the national team is vitally important to me, but I've always aspired to be able to play in the Champions League at a massive club like this.
"I'm there now. I'm not going to give it up and go to another team where I know I won't be playing.
"Its difficult, I've got a German international and our highest ever transfer, a Korean boy, who's playing there in front of me at the moment.
"But I've been given starts here and there and I've come off the bench as the first sub usually every game, so its been a steady improvement and its been a big learning curve for me."