Sydney (AFP) – Australia coach Ange Postecoglou kept faith with team talisman Tim Cahill Wednesday by including the veteran in his squad for two pivotal World Cup qualifiers despite a lack of match practice.
The 36-year-old record scorer now plays for Melbourne City after 18 years abroad but has been unable to string together a series of games due to suspension and not being picked.
But he was among the 30-man squad for matches against Iraq in Tehran on March 23 and the UAE in Sydney five days later.
Also included were Tomi Juric, Massimo Luongo and Mitch Langerak, who all missed the 2-2 draw with Thailand in Bangkok last November.
Postecoglou said the experience of players like Cahill, who has scored 48 goals in 94 games, was crucial to a squad featuring seven uncapped players.
“It is encouraging to have the experience of Tim Cahill, Tomi Juric, Mass Luongo, Mitch Langerak and James Troisi back in the squad,” he said.
“But we also have some players who have been on the fringe who have been knocking on the door of both the squad and the starting side.”
The squad will be trimmed to 23 following this weekend’s domestic matches around the world.
“We have named an extended squad with a few notable returns but we will make a final decision after this weekend’s matches around Australia, Asia and Europe,” Postecoglou said.
“With the Asian leagues and some countries in Europe only just starting I wanted to have another look.
Australia is currently third in Group B on nine points, one adrift of Saudi Arabia and Japan. Only the top two from Groups A and B automatically qualify for the finals in Russia.
Australia – Mustafa Amini (Aarhus Gymnastikforening/DEN), Aziz Behich (Bursaspor/TUR), Nathan Burns (FC Tokyo/JPN), Milos Degenek (Yokohama Marinos/JPN), Ryan Edwards (Partick Thistle/SCO), Alex Gersbach (Rosenborg/NOR), Craig Goodwin (Sparta Rotterdam/NED), Rhyan Grant (Sydney FC/AUS), Chris Ikonomidis (Aarhus Gymnastikforening/DEN), Jackson Irvine (Burton Albion/ENG), Mile Jedinak (Aston Villa/ENG), James Jeggo (SK Sturm Graz/AUT), Tomi Juric (FC Luzern/SUI), Robbie Kruse (Liaoning Whowin/CHN), Mitchell Langerak (Vfb Stuttgart/GER), Mathew Leckie (FC Ingolstadt/GER), Massimo Luongo (Queens Park Rangers/ENG), Awer Mabil (Esjberg/DEN), Riley McGree (Adelaide United/AUS), Matthew McKay (Brisbane Roar/AUS), Mark Milligan (Baniyas/UAE), Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield Town/ENG), Mathew Ryan (KRC Genk/BEL), Trent Sainsbury (Internazionale/ITA), Brad Smith (Bournemouth/ENG), James Trosi (Melbourne Victory/AUS), Daniel Vukovic (Sydney FC/AUS), Rhys Williams (Perth Glory/AUS), Bailey Wright (Bristol City/ENG)
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