Socceroos door ajar for more fresh faces

Socceroos coach Bert van Marwijk says the door is ajar for some after naming a squad for friendlies.
Socceroos coach Bert van Marwijk says the door is ajar for some after naming a squad for friendlies.

If there's a message between the lines of Bert van Marwijk's first Socceroos squad, it's that the World Cup door is still ajar for outsiders willing to step up.

Van Marwijk offered a hat-tip to the A-League in his extended 29-man line-up for this month's pre-World Cup friendlies, with the inclusion of uncapped local duo Andrew Nabbout and Dimi Petratos and recall of Josh Brillante.

Nabbout's preliminary selection caps an incredible week for the winger, whose outstanding form for Newcastle - including Saturday's top-shelf winner over Sydney FC - had earned the 25-year-old a transfer to Japanese Asian champions Urawa Red Diamonds.

His former Jets teammate Petratos will get a chance to state his case for an attacking role if he's named in next week's final squad for the tune-up clashes with Norway in Oslo and Colombia in London.

For Sydney FC midfield mainstay Brillante, it's been a long time coming after more than three years in the wilderness.

"It's always an honour to be named in the national-team squad," Brillante said.

"I'm quite happy and it's an exciting time ahead leading up to the World Cup but, for me, it's keeping the head down and working hard."

As expected, van Marwijk retained the core of Ange Postecoglou's Russia 2018 qualifying squad including captain Mile Jedinak, Aaron Mooy, Tom Rogic, Mat Ryan, Mat Leckie, Mark Milligan, Trent Sainsbury and Tim Cahill, whose 18 minutes for Millwall proved enough to keep the 38-year-old on track for his fourth World Cup.

But the Dutchman put Australia's regular trio of goalkeepers on notice by rewarding Postecoglou-era outcast Brad Jones for his stunning form with Feyenoord.

No.1 custodian Ryan is unlikely to be displaced, given his fine English Premier League displays for Brighton, leaving in-form Belgium-based Danny Vukovic and Japan-based Mitch Langerak to fight Jones for the remaining two places.

Defender James Meredith and striker Nikita Rukavytsya were also recalled while Czech-based defender Aleksandar Susnjar's excellent Olyroos form paid off.

Teen Melbourne City sensation Daniel Arzani was overlooked, as was winger Brandon Borrello despite his sizzling German second-tier form with Kaiserslautern.

But van Marwijk encouraged fringe players to continue pressing their case in coming months.

"Since my appointment with the Socceroos, my staff, scouts and I have monitored over 100 Australian players in the A-League, as well as in leagues across Europe and Asia," van Marwijk said.

"There are still a couple of weeks before the group gathers in Oslo, so we will continue to monitor the health and fitness of all the players in the preliminary squad, as well as those on our longer list of potential World Cup squad members.

"Our upcoming matches against Norway and Colombia will provide a great chance for the players selected to press their claims for Russia, however the door remains ajar for all players not picked for the March window."

Socceroos squad: Aziz Behich, Josh Brillante, Tim Cahill, Milos Degenek, Alex Gersbach, Jackson Irvine, Mile Jedinak, Brad Jones (gk), Tomi Juric, Matt Jurman, Robbie Kruse, Mitch Langerak (gk), Mat Leckie, Massimo Luongo, Jamie Maclaren, James Meredith, Mark Milligan, Aaron Mooy, Andrew Nabbout, Dimi Petratos, Josh Risdon, Tom Rogic, Nikita Rukavytsya, Mat Ryan (gk), Trent Sainsbury, Aleksandar Susnjar, James Troisi, Danny Vukovic (gk), Bailey Wright.

Australian Associated Press