Mathew Ryan is ready for two of the biggest matches of his life.

And he hopes to return from his trip around the globe as a World Cup finalist.

The Albion goalkeeper plays for Australia in Honduras tonight in the first leg of their play-off for a place in Russia next summer.

He then continues to Sydney for next Tuesday’s return meeting.

Ryan, fast becoming a big favourite at the Amex for his assured displays between the sticks, helped the Aussies scrape past Syria in the previous play-off round with an extra-time goal from Tim Cahill.

The former Valencia and club Brugge keeper rates it one of the most intense games he has ever tackled.

But the levels will go up again over the coming days at the final qualification hurdle.

Honduras squeezed into the play-offs at the expense of the USA, thanks to a win over the already-qualified Mexico in the final group fixture.

It was a round of games made famous by Panama’s shock qualification.

And by the track-suited Panamian character (report vary as to whether it was a ball boy or a substitute) who booted the ball almost out of the hands of a Costa Rica player looking to take a quick throw-in during added time.

Those images went viral on social media around the world.

The environment could be pretty partisan for this match too and Ryan knows it.

Honduras players have been out and about in a local shopping mall whipping up a frenzy of support.

The 40,000 capacity Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano in San Pedro Sula will be packed and is looking smarter than ever.

But Ryan is ready to embrace what will be a different challenge to that he faces with Albion.

He said: “After walking off the pitch against Syria, it was just a big sigh of relief.

“I don’t remember playing a more important match or more intense match in some time. I imagine this one will be even bigger.

“We are expecting a hostile crowd so we will have to give the best we can offer.

“We need to treat it as the most important games of our lives if we want to win the World Cup.

“I remember being a fan of the Socceroos as a young boy when they played in Sydney in a qualification match against Uruguay for the World Cup in Germany.

“The stadium was full and the way the game unfolded, with Australia winning on penalties and Mark Schwarzer being the hero, for me as a fan it stays in the memory bank of being one of the best sporting events I’ve gone to and witnessed.

“Ticket sales in Sydney have been good. Both nations want to get to the World Cup.”

Albion players have been fascinated by the logistics of Ryan’s trip.

He is used to piling up the air miles but this one is a bit of a marathon even for him, entailing a complete circuit of the planet.

The Aussies travelled to Los Angeles before heading into Central America and will keep on going after tonight’s game, which starts at 10pm our time.

Then, after the second leg, comes the long trip back to England – followed by the luxury of extra recovery time given that Albion have a home game which has been put back more than 48 hours for live television broadcast.

He said: “I’ve been joking with the guys that I am literally doing a trip around the world. My flight home from Sydney will be through Dubai and on to London.

“I’ll be flying a whole loop but you get used to it, being an Australian player. I wouldn’t change anything about playing for my country. Our manager is always using that as an example. Being an Australian player in Europe means you have to give that little extra bit to represent your country.

“We try to use that as another 1% motivation boost to gain an advantage. Perhaps European players aren’t so used to all the travel but it’s just another little sacrifice we have to make.”

Honduras will be looking to make their third successive World Cup finals. Perhaps their best known player in this country is ex-Wigan defender Maynor Figueroa.

Australia have a doubt over their talisman Cahill, who had to pull out of a training session this week with an ankle injury.

They had hoped to qualify via their group but instead were forced into a play-off system.

Now qualification could come down to the away goals rule or even penalties, giving Ryan a chance to emulate Schwarzer.

He will hope it does not come to that.