Superstar super-ready

Luke Pilkington may be Australia's Football Superstar, but the 19-year-old is under no illusions just how hard to will be to break into Melbourne Victory's Hyundai A-League team this season.

Luke Pilkington may be Australia's Football Superstar, but the 19-year-old is under no illusions just how hard to will be to break into Melbourne Victory's Hyundai A-League team this season.

Pilkington won the TV competition and as a result earned a contract with Melbourne's Youth League squad as well as a scholarship at Monash University, where he'll be studying sports science. But his dream of playing A-League football will have to wait, with Melbourne very much the same team which swept all before it to take the Premiership and Championship last season.

Coach Ernie Merrick rates Pilkington very highly, but believes that he still has plenty of development left. While he will play in a closed trial match against Green Gully this week, Merrick thinks an A-League debut is at least a few months away.

"I think Luke is a very worthy winner of Football Superstar. Not only is he a good footballer technically, but he's an outstanding character. We're extremely happy to have him along," Merrick said.

"I'm not going to put him under pressure by saying he'll play in our first game on August 6 against the Mariners. Luke is also the type of player that we like at Victory, technically. He's a left footer, he's quick, he can play comfortably in midfield or in a left back position. We like that versatility," he said.

"Maybe middle of the season, there might be an opportunity for him. But I have to say that the way our squad is shaping up, it's going to be a very tough team to break into."

Pilkington admits his head is still spinning after the past three months, where he has gone from captaining the ANU senior team in the ACT to training with the A-League's benchmark side.

"It's been crazy. After the show finished, I went back to Canberra and trained hard. I've just been trying to live normally. It's an honour coming down to Melbourne and very grateful for the opportunity," he said.

"Two years ago, I was playing for a team called Woden Valley, I didn't have much direction going on. Of course I wanted to progress further into the A-League or overseas. With this opportunity coming up, it's finally seeing my dream come true."

Merrick had the final choice of which player would with the competition, which was screened on FOX8. He admitted that his choice was as much to do with Luke's potential and attitude as the talent he displayed on the program.

"There's no doubt our club has profiles of the type of players that we want. Versatility, being one, technically gifted being another, good game awareness and physically very capable. But we also place a great of value on behavioural aspects and respectful characters and good personalities. He really fitted the bill very well," Merrick said.

"In the end the decision was pretty straight forward. Luke was one of the younger ones as well, which gives him a couple of years should he need it in the Youth League. But I suspect he is going to be promoted fairly quickly the way he's going."

Pilkington believes his ability to adapt to different playing positions will be crucial to the speed in which he gets on the radar for first team selection.

"Ernie has said the whole time that he likes versatile players and players these days aren't able to stick to one position. So, I'll try different positions and give my all to impress."

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