Leeds United: Kilkenny is keen to make Aussie impression

Leeds United midfielder Neil Kilkenny is hoping to play a part in a tournament-winning campaign after linking up with Australia for the Asian Cup in Qatar.

The Socceroos will begin their campaign with a group match against India tomorrow and Kilkenny expects his country to challenge for a place in the final on January 29.

Australia are one of the leading contenders at a tournament which also features South Korea and Japan, and Kilkenny is bidding to fight his way into the Socceroos' team after earning a long-awaited international recall last month.

The 25-year-old was included in a the 23-man squad selected by coach Holger Osieck, surviving the cut from a provisional pool of 50 players.

More than two years had passed since Kilkenny's last involvement with

Australia at the Olympic Games in 2008.

His call-up will force him to miss up to a month of United's season and he was not available for either Tuesday night's defeat at Cardiff or yesterday's FA Cup tie at Arsenal, but Kilkenny was thrilled by his inclusion and is optimistic that Australia will reach the latter stages of the tournament.

Kilkenny said: "We're the highest ranked team in the FIFA rankings.

"That doesn't always count for a lot, and the rankings aren't always totally accurate, but it tells you that we should be trying to go a long way into the competition.

"There'll be other good teams there, like South Korea and Japan.

"This is only the second time Australia have been in the Asian Cup and I've been really looking forward to it. We've got a good chance."

Australia's schedule will keep Kilkenny in Qatar until at least January 18, when they conclude their group fixtures against Bahrain, and United do not expect to see the midfielder return to their squad before the end of the month.

His untimely departure has increased the need for new signings at Elland Road and Leeds are likely to step up their work in the transfer market this week with the intention of improving their quota of midfielders.

United secured their first signing of the January window by landing Andy O'Brien on a two-and-a-half year deal from Bolton Wanderers, beating Cardiff to the defender's signature.

Bluebirds boss Dave Jones accepted O'Brien's decision to join United with good grace, saying: "He thought Leeds were the right club for him and I've got no problem with that."