At 21 years of age, it is safe to say Jonathan Aspro is living a dream.
Scouted by former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Ian Crook while playing for Newington College, Aspro now dons the red and black of one of Australia’s biggest football clubs – the Western Sydney Wanderers.
After featuring in 24 of the club’s 28 domestic matches last season, many believe Aspro should be among the first names picked on the Wanderers’ team sheet.
However, complacency does not seem to be a word in the young central-defender’s vocabulary.
“In the present moment no player has secured a start. We finished sixth last season which is below expectation,” Aspro told Outside90.
“Heading into the new season with a clean slate means we’re all fighting for the chance to play. That includes me.
“There’s always going to be competition for places and unless you’re willing to fight for your position you’re never going to get the opportunity to play.”
While Wanderers fans were underwhelmed by their side’s performance last season, which culminated in a penalty shootout finals exit at the hands of Brisbane Roar, Aspro believes things will improve in the new campaign.
“I have extreme confidence in this playing group,” he said.
“There were signs of progression in the back half of last season – a fair few clean sheets and we started scoring a bit more freely.
“If we can take that form into this season and hit the ground running, I’m confident we’ll set ourselves up for a title push.
“This club should be at the pinnacle of Australian football and that’s our expectation, we want to win and we want to do it in style.”
With star midfield duo Terry Antonis and Nico Martinez unable to renew their loan deals at Western Sydney, high hopes have been placed on the shoulders of new recruits Josh Risdon and Roly Bonevacia.
Quizzed on his early impressions of Risdon and Bonevacia, Aspro spoke glowingly of the pair.
“They’re both looking really sharp,” he continued.
“Roly’s come from Wellington with some immense talent, you only have to look at his skill and some of the goals he’s scored to see the quality is there.
“I think he’s going to be a really good acquisition for the squad.
“Josh Risdon’s a Socceroo and looks perfectly capable of covering for the loss of a great player in Scott Neville.”
The Red and Black must also adjust to life without departing captains Dimas and Mitch Nichols who amassed a total of 103 games for the club.
Despite the leadership void left behind, an added sense of responsibility does not faze Aspro.
“Regardless of leaders like Dimas and Mitch leaving the club, I’ve always taken it upon myself to be vocal and commanding with the players,” he said.
“A big part of my role as a central-defender is my communication with the players in front of me.
“I’ll always have that part of my game to develop and there’s no better place to do it than here at the Wanderers.”
The Wanderers kick off their 2017-18 season against Perth Glory at Spotless Stadium on 8 October.