Thu, Mar 15, 11:08am by Head Editor
The man given the assignment of taking Australia to June’s World Cup, Bert van Marwijk, has released his first squad, and it will be an extended squad of 26 players who will get their chance to press their claims for a spot on the plane to Russia, in friendlies against Norway and then Colombia later this month.
Of all the players who were named, Andrew Nabbout is perhaps the best story, having gone from a discard at Melbourne Victory at the end of the 2015 season, the 25-year-old is now on the brink of his international debut, having been named in the Aussie squad. The Melbourne-born winger has had a brilliant season for the Newcastle Jets, so good that he signed for Japanese giant Urawa Red Diamonds last week.
There are four A-League players in the squad, Nabbout’s former teammate, attacking midfielder Dimitri Petratos, who is in career-best form, earns his spot in the 26, alongside Sydney FC midfielder Josh Brillante, 2015 Asian Cup hero, Melbourne Victory’s James Troisi and a man who has established himself as the first-choice right-back in the land, Western Sydney’s Josh Risdon.
As usual, there are also a number of unlucky players, and this time the three left out are France-based left back Alex Gersbach, Japan-based goalkeeper Mitch Langerak and perhaps the unluckiest of all, Hibernian striker Jamie Maclaren, who scored just last week in his club’s win over Hearts in the Scottish Premier League.
The squad will assemble in Oslo from Monday for what is a crucial camp for van Marwijk and the rest of the coaching staff and players. It is the only time that the coach will have his players before naming an initial squad of 35 by May 14 for the biggest sporting event on the planet.
That 35 will then be culled to 23 by June 4, which is just days before Australia will land in Russia for the World Cup.
Australia meet Norway at 4am (AEDT) on March 24 at Ullevaal Stadion in Oslo, before flying to London to take on Colombia at 6am (AEDT) on Wednesday morning at Fulham Football Club’s Craven Cottage.
The Socceroos are a $3.20 outsider against Norway ($2.10), while huge odds of $6.50 are on offer for an Aussie win against Los Cafeteros ($1.45) a few days later.
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