As a perennial yo-yo club, Hull City were favourites to bounce back into the Premier League this season. After all, they'd almost survived, were it not for a last-minute collapse under Marco Silva.

But a left-field decision to appoint former goalkeeper and Russian national team boss, Leonid Slutsky, left Hull in total disarray. The club sold their entire spine - players like Curtis Davies, Harry Maguire, Sam Clucas and Tom Huddlestone - who kept ensuring their re-promotion.

Then the unthinkable happened. Ryan Mason - Hull's star midfielder and a former prodigious England international - retired at 26-years-old due to a head injury. This left a gaping crevass in midfield, to be filled by a young bloke from Burton. 

Irvine had been the star at the centre of Burton Albion's unpredictable Championshipship survival last season, as the Brewers - a club with a stadium capacity of around 5,000 - outlasted the likes of Wigan Athletic.

The Aussie didn't start brightly at Hull. The transfer was "stressful" and painfully drawn out for the Socceroo, he had a shocking start to the season with Burton, then struggled to work his way into Slutsky's squad. 

He drew criticism from the fans and manager, of which he said some of it "stung". But if there's one thing the former Celtic, Ross County, Kilmarnock and Frankston Pines slugger has developed throughout his career, it's resilience. 

As Hull's situation became dire - just as he had at Burton - Irvine sprung to life. The midfielder's now played the full 90 minutes in 17 of Hull's last 19 games and is spurring yet another Championship club to a remarkable survival. 

Turns out, Irvine's been spurring clubs into fighting for their lives his entire career. After moving to Scotland as a teenager, in Irvine's first Scottish Premier League season on loan to Kilmarnock, it was the Aussie's 27 appearances and thunderbolt strikes that saved the club from relegation, by a measley three points. 

Burton soon discovered Irvine's Bear Grylls style survival instincts when the Aussie, usually from a defensive position, contributed 11 goals in 44 appearances to save the club last season. 

Now Hull are relishing the fruits of Irvine's labour. The Tigers are now 17th due a run of improved form, while Irvine now looks favourite for another great escape.

The only time he's been properly rested since new coach Nigel Adkins took charge was against Sunderland - the most in-turmoil club in England's four professional divisions - and Hull lost that match 1-0. 

The Aussie has been one of the sole highlights in the Tigers' season, with only eight wins all campaign spelling the beginning of a slippery slope for one of Yorkshire's biggest clubs.

Hull's Daily Mail recently called him "magnificent", saying "the Australian international seems to thrive when the Tigers play with high tempo."

For the second season in a row, Irvine's throwing heart and soul into a relegation dogfight. He's quickly becoming the Sam Allardyce of Championship midfielders, essential when all hope seems lost.

It doesn't help the 'saviour' cries much that without the bun, he bares a striking resemblance to Jesus himself. Topped by an assist to give Hull an early lead in their 3-0 win over Ipswich overnight, the 25-year-old now has two goals and three assists in his last 10 games.

As a naturally mobile and versatile midfielder, Irvine's proving to be key to Hull City's survival. If the Tigers can get their act together, he could be battling relegation in the Premier League sooner than later. 

But what's more exciting for Socceroos fans, is the prospect of him becoming a force under Bert van Marwijk at the 2018 World Cup. 

The Aussie, alongside QPR midfielder Massimo Luongo, is nearing the best form of his career. Both these pivoting midfielders are versatile and contribute strongly in attack. They've both been chipping in regularly to keep struggling clubs afloat in a cut-throat division.

While Mile Jedinak and Aaron Mooy are everyone's favourites to occupy van Marwijk's predicted midfield screen in a 4-2-3-1 formation, friendlies against Norway and Colombia may be the perfect occassion to test the squad's depth.

If mobility is required, Irvine could have a very valuable part to play. If aerial presence is what van Marwijk wants, then Irvine's 6'2 frame is hard to pass by. 

But if the Socceroos need underdog grit and fighting spirit, with experience battling with their backs against the wall, then Irvine's practically indispensable.