'There's still time for Asian Cup bolters'

Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou insists the door isn’t closed on his 2015 Asian Cup squad and says there’s time for bolters to emerge.

Postecoglou named a 23-man squad on Wednesday for Australia’s final friendly before Asian Cup selection, against Japan in Osaka on November 18.

The Australia boss insisted he had been on a post-World Cup mission to bolster the squad’s talent pool, amid a poor run of results, which included the side’s failure to score against Qatar and UAE in the most recent friendlies.

Among the significant absentees from Postecoglou’s latest squad were Western Sydney Wanderers pair Matt Spiranovic and Tomi Juric, who are both on the comeback trail from injuries.

Injury also ruled out Adam Taggart (groin), Bailey Wright (groin), Tommy Oar (minor knock) and Adam Sarota (knee), but all are expected to be fit in time for the Asian Cup.

Other potential bolters excluded from the squad included Adelaide United’s Bruce Djite, Wellington Phoenix’s Nathan Burns and Sydney FC’s Corey Gameiro, given the side’s goal scoring woes.

And Postecoglou pointed to the example of 2013-14 A-League Golden Boot winner Taggart, who was included in Australia’s final World Cup squad having been overlooked in the lead-up to the tournament, as evidence he was still open-minded.

“There’s definitely room to move. Every camp we’ve brought in some new players,” Postecoglou said.

“We’ve said all along, if form warrants it and people fit into the style of football we want to play and will part of the picture long-term.

“I did that at the World Cup, Adam Taggart went on the back of 15 goals.”

World Cup squad members Dario Vidosic, Oliver Bozanic and Ryan McGowan have missed all of Postecoglou’s post-World Cup camps, while Ben Halloran and Luke Wilkshire appear to have fallen out of favour.

Japan-based striker Josh Kennedy, who has been heavily linked with a move back to the A-League once the J.League season concludes, remains a curious case despite being 32 and injury prone, given the Socceroos’ issues in front of goal.

“If players are playing well in their domestic league and their form’s good and they tick all those boxes, they’re definitely still in the frame,” Postecoglou said.

“There’s still room between now and the Asian Cup. There’s players outside this 23 who have definitely got claims.

“From our perspective, we’re not shutting the door on anyone. Form and fitness will be paramount leading into the Asian cup, so that’s the challenge.”

Speaking specifically about Burns, who has been in fine form for new club Wellington, Postecoglou said he was firmly in the frame.

“I had a good chat to Ernie (Merrick). He missed a fair bit of football with injury and they’re still managing him through training,” Postecoglou said.

“He’s definitely on the radar and I know him very well, I coached him when he was 17.

“He’s got some real good qualities for our style of football. Certainly if he continues his current form he’s well in the frame.

“I didn’t want to take anyone away who couldn’t handle our training loads and made sure they’d get a benefit from the experience.”

Meanwhile, Postecoglou revealed he felt the upcoming camp was the most important of his national team’s post-World Cup era.

“The significant part is that I’ve got seven or eight days before the game,” Postecoglou said.

“We’ve squeezed in double fixtures in the other camps, which has meant limited training time.

“It’s a good period of time to have the players and to be able train and work on things.

“From that point of view it is the most significant camp post-World Cup. The actual game is going to be a great challenge for us.”