Sydney (AFP) – Captain Mile Jedinak was on Wednesday named in an extended Australia squad for next month’s two-leg World Cup play-off against Honduras with Bristol City defender Bailey Wright also returning from injury.
The Socceroos face home-and-away clashes against the fourth-placed team from the CONCACAF federation for a spot at next year’s World Cup finals in Russia.
The opening tie is in Honduras on November 10 with the return leg in Sydney five days later.
Aston Villa star Jedinak missed the Socceroos’ final qualifiers with a groin problem, which also kept him out of their Asian play-off with Syria.
But the experienced midfielder was included in a 30-man squad by coach Ange Postecoglou, whose future is up in the air amid reports he will quit regardless of whether they make the World Cup or not.
Postecoglou has retained 22 of the 23 players involved against Syria, with only the injured Brad Smith missing.
Striker Mathew Leckie and midfielder Marl Milligan were included although they both miss the first leg through suspension.
The final 23 will be finalised next week, and Postecoglou said he was confident whoever was picked would help propel Australia to its fourth-consecutive World Cup appearance.
“There are a couple of weeks before the group gets together so we will be monitoring the health and fitness of every player to make sure that the final 23 are available for what is going to be a challenging couple of games,” he said.
“We feel that we are right on schedule with regards to our arrangements, logistics and intelligence for Honduras, and are comfortable that the work completed and decisions made so far will help us in our quest to qualify for Russia.”
He added that having the second leg at home would be a boost for the team.
“A large, vocal home crowd in Sydney for the second leg is something that everyone involved with the squad is looking forward to,” said Postecoglou.
Goalkeepers: Mark Birighitti (NAC Breda/NED), Mitchell Langerak (Levante/ESP), Mat Ryan (Brighton/ENG), Danny Vukovic (Genk/BEL).
Defenders: Aziz Behich (Bursaspor/TUR), Milos Degenek (Yokohama Marinos/JPN), Alex Gersbach (Rosenborg/NOR), Craig Goodwin (Sparta Rotterdam/NED), Matthew Jurman (Suwon/KOR), Ryan McGowan (Al Sharjah/UAE), Josh Risdon (Western Sydney Wanderers/AUS), Trent Sainsbury (Jiangsu Suning/CHN), Bailey Wright (Bristol City/ENG)
Midfielders: Mustafa Amini (AGF/DEN), Jackson Irvine (Hull City/ENG), Mile Jedinak (Aston Villa/ENG), James Jeggo (Sturm Graz/AUT), Massimo Luongo (QPR/ENG), Mark Milligan (Melbourne Victory/AUS), Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield Town/ENG), Tom Rogic (Celtic/SCO), James Troisi (Melbourne Victory/AUS)
Strikers: Tim Cahill (Melbourne City/AUS), Ajdin Hrustic (Gronigen/NED), Tom Juric (Luzern/SWI), Robbie Kruse (Bochum/GER), Mathew Leckie (Hertha Berlin/GER), Awer Mabil (Pacos de Ferreira/POR), Jamie Maclaren (Darmstadt/GER, Nikita Rukavytsya (Maccabi Haifa/ISR)
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