Surprise bolter in Socceroos squad for Syria playoffs
WITH one exception, Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou has stuck to the tried and tested for next month's crucial World Cup playoffs with Syria, after naming a 30-man initial squad for the games in Malaysia and Sydney.
Forward Nikita Rukavytsya is the surprising inclusion, three years after his last cap, on the back of four goals for his club side in Israel, Maccabi Haifa.
Of the 23 players who faced Japan and Thailand earlier this month, only Matthew Spiranovic misses out, with an otherwise predictable range of understudies added before Postecoglou cuts the group to 23 next week.
Captain Mile Jedinak is included, despite his club boss at Aston Villa, Steve Bruce, reporting more discomfort for Jedinak from the midfielder's long-standing groin injury.
Europe-based contingent Aziz Behich, Mark Birighitti, Craig Goodwin and James Jeggo are in, along with Matt Jurman from Suwong Bluewings in Korea and Wanderers right back Josh Risdon.
"There is a short turnaround from the last matches so we are fully focused on these upcoming fixtures against Syria," Postecoglou said.
"The players that we have selected for these crucial matches all have the benefit of several club matches under their belts over the past few weeks, and I am confident whichever 23 players we settle on will be able to do the job next month.
"Now that the match venues have been confirmed, we will prepare for our fixtures against Syria just like every other international opposition we faced throughout this campaign."
If Australia wins the playoff it will then take on the fourth-placed Central and North American team in a subsequent pair of fixtures, the winner securing the last spot at the World Cup in Russia next year.