Australia have named seven new faces in their 31-man squad for four World Cup qualifiers in June, but there is no place for established stars Aaron Mooy and Tom Rogic. Overseas-based players Riley McGree, Fran Karacic, Kenneth Dougall and Lawrence Thomas are joined by uncapped A-League trio Denis Genreau, Connor Metcalfe and Ruon Tongyik for the matches against Kuwait, Chinese Taipei, Nepal, and Jordan.
The Socceroos, who have not played since a 1-0 away win over Jordan in November 2019 due to the coronavirus pandemic, are top of their qualifying group with maximum points after four games.
The absence of Mooy and Rogic raised eyebrows, with head coach Graham Arnold explaining that challenges posed by the pandemic and personal circumstances had led to some players being left out. "We've selected a balanced squad that combines youth and experience, but also one that rewards players for their outstanding performances at their clubs over the past six to 12 months," Arnold told the Socceroos' official website.
"I have said many times that I believe the strength of the Socceroos is through its young players. Along with my staff, I can't wait to work with the many fresh faces in this squad as we continue to build the depth of the national team.
"Equally so, we are excited to work with the experienced and senior players we will have with us, as together we strive to advance to the next round of qualifying with eight wins on our record. Our extended 31-player squad will provide us with the flexibility and adaptability we will need given we will play four matches in 12 days, and the acclimatisation and preparation period that half of our squad will have here in the UAE will be crucial ahead of the first two games in Kuwait."
"It is no secret that we had originally targeted to name this squad last week. However, some challenges with COVID, as well as some injuries and personal circumstances, have meant some players were ruled out of the final reckoning."
"We have communicated at length with those players and will continue to support them individually as they strive to return to the Socceroos later in the year."
Australia squad in full:
Andrew Redmayne (Sydney FC), Mathew Ryan (Arsenal), Danny Vukovic (unattached), Lawrence Thomas (SonderjyskE); Aziz Behich (Kayserispor), Milos Degenek (Crvena Zvezda), Curtis Good (Melbourne City), Rhyan Grant (Sydney FC), Fran Karacic (Brescia), Ryan McGowan (Sydney FC),Trent Sainsbury (Kortrijk), Brad Smith (Seattle Sounders), Harry Souttar (Stoke City), Ruon Tongyik (Central Coast Mariners); Brandon Borrello (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Martin Boyle (Hibernian), Kenneth Dougall (Blackpool), Denis Genreau (Macarthur), James Holland (LASK), Ajdin Hrustic (Eintracht Frankfurt), Chris Ikonomidis (Perth Glory), Jackson Irvine (Hibernian), Mathew Leckie (Hertha Berlin), Awer Mabil (Midtjylland), Riley McGree (Birmingham City), Connor Metcalfe (Melbourne City), Nikita Rukavytsya (Maccabi Haifa); Mitchell Duke (Western Sydney Wanderers), Apostolos Giannou (OFI), Jamie Maclaren (Melbourne City), Adam Taggart (Cerezo Osaka).