Graham Arnold's scouting update: The youngsters who've stood out
Caltex Socceroos boss Graham Arnold is four weeks into a scouting mission that has seen him criss-cross around Europe to scout Australia’s pool of young talent.
The 56-year-old has met with and watched a total of 27 players on a venture across the continent that carries dual purposes.
One of Arnold’s key focuses since taking the national team reins has been assembling a depth of players to call from during Australia’s arduous 2022 World Cup qualifying journey, which commences against Kuwait on September 10.
A few youngsters in particular have left the former Central Coast Mariners and Sydney FC stalwart impressed.
"Aidan Hrustic is doing well in Holland, George Timotheou is playing at Zulte Waregem in Belgium and is one to keep an eye on," Arnold, speaking from London, told reporters on Friday.
"Brandon Borrello is doing great in Germany, John Iredale has moved to Wolfsburg's second team and is scoring goals regularly there.
“[Assistant coach] Rene [Meulensteen been around a lot of the players. He flew down to Cyprus to watch Apostolos Giannou play.”
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Arnold has also used his time overseas to check in with some of the Caltex Socceroos stars who were rested in June's international friendly with Korea Republic in Busan.
"We’re just trying to be supportive for the boys and see what physical condition they're in, but also mentally," he said.
"Everyone has told me that they feel fresh after the break they had, where we created depth for the Korea Republic game.
"It's the first time they've had a proper pre-season in four years, and they're looking forward to the campaign ahead."
Australia are set to embark on the first part of their journey to Qatar next month, with that clash against Kuwait the first of eight FIFA World Cup™ qualifying matches over the next 12 months.
The Caltex Socceroos have been drawn in Group B for the Asian Qualifiers against Kuwait, Jordan, Nepal and Chinese Taipei.
The fixtures will be a great chance for the Caltex Socceroos to make a statement throughout the first phase of qualifying before playing at the 2020 Copa America in Argentina and Colombia, which is set to run from June 12 to July 12.
“It’s time these boys got ruthless,” Arnold continued. “We’ve dominated so many games since I’ve been in charge, and it’s time we finish teams off.
“We will be playing against packed defences that defend very deep, so coming up with some great combination play will be important, and having more of our front players fit now will help that.
“Having players with a 1v1 action that can change the game is important as well.
“As coaches you’re always learning lessons, we’ve learnt a few along the way and we’ll be ready for it when it comes.”
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Adam Taggart is certainly another Australian abroad doing his best to remain at the forefront of Arnold's thoughts.
Taggart has been a sensation for Suwon Bluewings following his transfer in February from Brisbane Roar and currently leads the K-League goal charts with 13 goals in 22 matches.
The WA-born forward has also collected the K-League Player of the Month for July and managed to find the net against Juventus while playing for the K-League All Stars in the same month.
“I get to watch his games every Monday on my computer,” said Arnold.
“He’s been great. It’s not only the goals that he’s scoring but his work rate has been fantastic, his combination play, he’s in really great shape. It’s exciting to have him in the squad.”