After six years of hard labour laying concrete the prospect of travelling 12,000 miles across the world to start a new life is a piece of cake.

Allan Picken's dream of playing English football is set be realised on Saturday when he makes his Walsall debut at Rochdale after just four days acclimatisation in England.

The 24-year-old is Richard Money's sixth summer signing and arrives at the Bescot with an uncompromising reputation.

Standing well over 6ft tall, he cuts an imposing figure and Money has already described him as a 'no nonsense' defender.

Having worked with him for a year at Newcastle United Jets, Money is acutely aware of the hunger to succeed that burns within.

Picken has tasted the delights of manual labour, which has only increased his desire to succeed and that manifests itself through plain talking.

"Before I started playing in the 'A' League, I was laying concrete for ten hours a day," he said. "We also trained four nights a week but that was the sacrifice you had to make.

"I appreciate the fact that I am a professional footballer and there are a lot of players who don't appreciate what they have.

"Working fulltime and playing soccer has enabled me to keep a level head. It was always my dream to play in England and I know I have got to earn the respect of people, as no one has seen me play."

Money interjected with a quip to remind Picken that there is only one football in England so 'soccer' isn't in the chosen vernacular.

Down Under, football competes with Rugby League, Rugby Union, cricket and Australian Rules Football for the public's attention.

Traditionally, it has been entrenched at the bottom of the list but, in light of their excellent showing in this summer's World Cup, the power base is shifting.

"Not many Australians had high expectations going into the World Cup but, after the game against Japan, people started getting into it,"

confirmed Picken. "Rugby League is traditionally the biggest game in Australia but soccer is catching up," he added with a grin aimed towards his manager.

"The limelight is on Australian football at present and I am sure there will be more scouts and agents over there.

"There are lots of players who would want to come over to England and I have been impressed with the standard in my two days at the club.

"The facilities are just unbelievable and it is more professional than in Australia.

"I have come over here on my own and left my family behind so it is a big move for me.

"However, the people have been very welcoming and I am big enough and strong enough to cope," he added, with typical Australian resilience.

Money has obviously done his homework regarding Picken and is adamant his attributes will blossom within the Football League.

And for Picken himself, he hopes it is the first step on a very long ladder to international recognition.

"I think I am suited to the English game as I am good in the air, good on the ball and very hard working.

"I am also very competitive and would love to play for Australia - even though both of my parents are Scottish.

"I worked with Richard last year and I know exactly how he wants people to play and that is the reason I signed."