Ange Postecoglou has named his squad to face Ecuador next month - and it includes a few potential World Cup bolters being given a chance to book their place on the plane to Brazil...but no Lucas Neill.
The clash with Ecuador at The Den in London is the last match before Australia must name a provisional 30-man squad for the World Cup in mid-May and Postecoglou has handed a fresh group of players the opportunity to stake a claim for the World Cup.
The squad is reflective of Postecoglou’s belief that he will select players showing strong club form with his recent scouting trip to Europe and the Middle East solidifying his belief that the next Golden Generation of players is ready to take the step into the National team in Brazil.
“The squad to face Ecuador represents the first steps in what I believe is the building of the next golden generation for Australian football acknowledging there is a need to balance experimentation and experience to achieve this,” Postecoglou told the Socceroos official website.
“The Ecuador match gives this group of players an opportunity to stake a claim for the World Cup. They have been rewarded for playing consistent and strong football and shows that age and limited international experience are not barriers to opportunity.
“I was encouraged by what I saw on my scouting trip and what I’ve been watching in the A-League and other parts of the world and I’m confident that with courage and belief we can face the challenges ahead and not waver from our long term plan.”
Postecoglou’s squad contains four uncapped players, five plying their trade in the Hyundai A-League and three players brought back into the squad after missing the 1-0 win over Costa Rica last November.
Curtis Good (Dundee United), Chris Herd (Aston Villa), Massimo Luongo (Swindon Town) and Ben Halloran (Fortuna Dusseldorf) will all have the opportunity to make their Socceroo debut while Luke Wilkshire, Adam Sarota and Brad Jones will feature under Postecoglou for the first time
Mark Milligan (Melbourne Victory), Tom Rogic (Melbourne Victory), Matt McKay (Brisbane Roar), Ivan Franjic (Brisbane Roar) and Matthew Spiranovic (Western Sydney Wanderers) will all depart from Australia following this weekend’s Hyundai A-League matches.
Although Postecoglou is focused on the World Cup and beyond, he was not underestimating the importance of the Ecuador match.
“Ecuador is a very important game for us,” Postecoglou said. “It’s the last game (before World Cup squad selection) and it’s a quality opponent. Ecuador made the World Cup and it will be a tough challenge for us.
“We started our journey against Costa Rica and we want to build on that. It was a solid performance and the players backing up from that game would already have had a taste of what we are trying to achieve. For the new ones it’s about getting as much information as possible.
“We’ve done a lot of work in between the Costa Rica game and now with analysis of our own performance and analysis of our opponents and they’ll get a lot of information in those two or three days and I’m certainly looking for a strong performance against Ecuador so we continue to build on the positive feeling we had after the Costa Rica game.”
While Postecoglou was true to his belief that players must be playing well and regularly at domestic level to win Socceroo selection, the same attitude has seen him leave the door open for a wave of players with dreams of representing the Socceroos at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
“Selection in the final squad for the World Cup is still very much an open door,” Postecoglou said. “There were quite a few players, particularly those in Asia whose leagues are just beginning, who are still very much on the radar.
“There are also a few players who are very much a part of my thinking and plans for the World Cup who are not playing and I was pretty mindful of not calling anyone who was not going to play some significant game time.
“Their club form going forward will be a big indicator of that and players still have an opportunity to get back into the squad.”
Oliver BOZANIC - FC Luzern - SWITZERLAND - 1 (0)
Tim CAHILL - New York Red Bulls - USA - 66 (29)
Jason DAVIDSON - SC Heracles Almelo - NETHERLANDS 4 (0)
Ivan FRANJIC - Brisbane Roar FC - AUSTRALIA - 6 (0)
Curtis GOOD - Dundee United FC - SCOTLAND -
Ben HALLORAN - Fortuna Dusseldorf - GERMANY -
Chris HERD - Aston Villa FC - ENGLAND -
James HOLLAND - FK Austria Vienna - AUSTRIA - 12 (0)
Mile JEDINAK - Crystal Palace FC - ENGLAND - 42 (3)
Brad JONES - Liverpool FC - ENGLAND - 3 (0)
Mitchell LANGERAK - B.V. Borussia 09 Dortmund - GERMANY - 2 (0)
Matthew LECKIE - FSV Frankfurt 1899 - GERMANY - 5 (1)
Massimo LUONGO - Swindon Town FC - ENGLAND -
Ryan MCGOWAN - Shandong Luneng Taishan FC - CHINA PR - 8 (0)
Matthew McKAY - Brisbane Roar FC - AUSTRALIA - 45 (1)
Mark MILLIGAN - Melbourne Victory FC - AUSTRALIA - 26 (2)
Tommy OAR FC Utrecht - NETHERLANDS - 12 (1)
Tommy ROGIC - Melbourne Victory FC - AUSTRALIA - 8 (0)
Matt RYAN - Club Brugge KV - BELGIUM - 4 (0)
Adam SAROTA FC Utrecht NETHERLANDS 3 (0)
Matthew SPIRANOVIC - Western Sydney Wanderers FC - AUSTRALIA - 16 (0)
Dario VIDOSIC - FC Sion - SWITZERLAND - 19 (1)
Luke WILKSHIRE - FK Dinamo Moscow - RUSSIA - 79 (8)