Veteran Socceroos striker Tomi Juric is the big omission from Graham Arnold’s 23-man Socceroos squad for the Asian Cup, while injured midfield star Aaron Mooy has been named in the hope he could still play in next month’s tournament.
Juric, capped 41 times for Australia, has been overlooked for attackers including in-form Perth A-League young gun Chris Ikononmidis and Scottish-based striker Jamie Maclaren as Arnold named a fresh-faced squad for Australia’s title defence in the UAE, starting January 6.
Mooy is included despite his Premier League club Huddersfield indicating he would be ruled out for up to two months with a knee injury. He will be assessed by Socceroos medical staff in the coming days and while Dutch-based bolter Ajdin Hrustic reportedly on standby should he be ruled out, Arnold declined to name his standby players.
Australia’s squad also includes A-League star Rhyan Grant, recently-recalled midfielder Mustafa Amini and big guns including Mat Ryan, Tom Rogic, Trent Sainsbury and skipper Mark Milligan.
Arnold said he had spoken to Juric and suggested his omission was down to his lack of game time with Swiss club FC Luzern.
”I had a really good conversation with Tomi … he’s disappointed of course,” Arnold said.
“But this squad is about this tournament and winning every game … He understands that and that he needs to be playing club football regularly.”
The squad will assemble in the UAE next week as Australia prepare to defend the title won by Ange Postecoglou’s side in 2015.
“Our squad for the upcoming AFC Asian Cup in the UAE blends youth with experience,” Arnold said in a statement.
“Individually and collectively the players are determined to excel at the tournament and following the three positive camps that we have had since September I know that Australia will enter the Asian Cup with the best camaraderie in the competition.
“It is exciting that 15 of the 23 players in the squad will be being attending their first AFC Asian Cup, and I am expecting that Australian fans will see some great performances from our kids throughout the tournament.
“In the short amount of time I have had in charge I feel that we have come a long way, and we will travel to the UAE expecting to win every match and ultimately lift the trophy in early February in Abu Dhabi.”
SOCCEROOS SQUAD FOR ASIAN CUP: Goalkeepers: Mitch Langerak, Mat Ryan, Danny Vukovic Defence: Mark Milligan (capt), Aziz Behich, Milos Degenek, Alex Gersbach, Rhyan Grant, Matt Jurman, Josh Risdon, Trent Sainsbury Midfield: Mustafa Amini, Jackson Irvine, Massimo Luongo, Aaron Mooy, Tom Rogic Attack: Martin Boyle, Chris Ikonomidis, Robbie Kruse, Mathew Leckie, Awer Mabil, Jamie Maclaren, Andrew Nabbout.
Injured midfielder Aaron Mooy is expected tobe provisionally named in the squad before a medical later this week, with Socceroos staff still hopeful the Huddersfield man can overcome a knee issue.
Perth Glory’s Chris Ikonomidis and Netherlands-based Ajdin Hrustic are firmly in the frame as Arnold considers how best to bolster his side with goals. There are question marks over every line of his squad, particularly the attack where no player seems certain of a place.
Published by Staff Writers with AAP, 20th December 2018 on foxsports.com.au