The 51 games to define Caltex Socceroos' final squad
“I want to get as much information as I can get about every player … It’s important that those players who are in the squad of 32 know they are interesting for us.”
This was the message from Caltex Socceroos boss Bert van Marwijk on Monday when he announced his preliminary 32-man squad for the FIFA World Cup.
Next week, the squad will be trimmed again to determine who travels to Turkey for a 20-day training camp where they can impress the coaching staff.
With 32 players now under a magnifying glass, and a combined 51 games to go for their respective clubs, we thought we’d take a look at the season status of each of our FIFA World Cup squad hopefuls.
Season Status: Still playing
Seven Caltex Socceroos wrap up their club seasons this weekend, with Alex Gersbach (RC Lens), Mathew Leckie (Hertha Berlin), Nikita Rukavytsya (Maccabi Haifa) and Robbie Kruse (VfL Bochum) all having one more domestic league game to play.
Another player with just one game to go is Mark Milligan, who will be in action for Al Ahly in the second leg of the AFC Asian Champions League on 15 May.
Jamie Maclaren has two more Scottish Premier League games to play for Hibernian, who could finish as high as fourth to secure a 1st Round Europa League qualifying spot. Maclaren’s season concludes on 13 May.
In the English Premier League, both Maty Ryan and Aaron Mooy end their club campaigns on 14 May. Ryan’s Brighton have already secured their Premier League status face Manchester City and Liverpool with no pressure. But for Mooy’s Huddersfield, they face Chelsea and Arsenal with just a three point buffer above Southampton and Swansea in a relegation scrap.
Danny Vukovic (three games to go for KRC Genk), Aziz Behich (two games to go for Bursaspor), Fran Karacic (three games to go for Lokomotiva Zagreb) and Trent Sainsbury (three games to go for Grasshopper Zurich) all wrap up their season on the weekend of 20 May, with Vukovic’s side still a chance of finishing in a Europa League qualifying spot in Belgium. Tomi Juric – who has been nursing an injury that has prevented from game time since the end of April – also ends his FC Luzern season on 20 May, with a Europa League spot on the line with three games remaining.
In the Czech Republic, Aleksandar Susnjar (Mlada Boleslav) has three games to play in a season that ends on 27 May. His club side is just two points above the drop zone.
Finally, there are three Aussies who have crucial games to go with titles on the line.
Tom Rogic’s Celtic have already wrapped up the Scottish Premier League – they still have two games to play on 10 and 13 May before the Scottish Cup Final versus Motherwell on 20 May.
In Cyprus, Apostolos Giannou’s club (AEK Larnaca) face Apollon Limassol in the Cypriot Cup Final on 17 May.
And, Mile Jedinak will be hoping to lead a second club up to the Premier League via the Championship Play-Off Series. His Aston Villa face Middlesbrough on 13 and 16 May in a two-legged semi-final tie. The winner will face either Derby County or Fulham on 27 May AEST a one-off shot at Premier League promotion.
Season Status: Mid-season break looming
Three Caltex Socceroos plying their trade in Japan will see their club seasons go through until 20 May before a two-month mid-season break to avoid clashes with FIFA World Cup windows.
Mitchell Langerak (Nagoya Grampus), Andrew Nabbout (Urawa Red Diamonds) and Milos Degenek (Yokohama F. Marinos) all have four games in just under two weeks as they juggle J.League and J.League Cup commitments.
Also in Asia, Suwon Bluewings defender Matthew Jurman has a mid-season break in the K.League – although their season reconvenes two weeks earlier than Japan.
Jurman’s side has a crucial AFC Champions League Round of 16 clash to play against Ulsan Hyundai as well as two domestic league games before switching focus to the Caltex Socceroos.
Season Status: Done and dusted
There are a total of 11 players who have already wrapped up their club season – including five Hyundai A-League stars and a host of English Championship-based Aussies.
Dimi Petratos (Newcastle Jets) and James Troisi (Melbourne Victory) played in Saturday’s A-League Grand Final, with Daniel Arzani (Melbourne City) and Josh Brillante (Sydney FC) finishing a week earlier after their clubs fell at the Semi Final stage.
For Josh Risdon, his Western Sydney Wanderers failed to make the Finals Series, meaning his last competitive game was on 15 April.
In England, Millwall duo James Meredith and Tim Cahill saw their club come agonisingly close to the Championship Play-off stage. Instead, they missed out on the top six by three points, putting an end to a gruelling 46-game domestic league.
And with the regular Championship season all over, that means Jackson Irvine (Hull City, 18th), Bailey Wright (Bristol City, 11th) and Massimo Luongo (Queens Park Rangers, 16th) can get a well-earned break before the Caltex Socceroos reconvene.
Finally, Feyenoord shot-stopper Brad Jones has finished his domestic season with his club finishing fourth in the Dutch Eredivisie and securing Europa League qualification by winning the KNVB Cup.
After starting 31 of 34 league games, Jones was also between the sticks for six domestic cup games and five UEFA Champions League group games.
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