New faces and returnees

We take a look at some of the more intriguing names announced yesterday by Holger Osieck for Australia’s looming FIFA World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia.

Australia coach Holger Osieck named a fascinating squad for the upcoming FIFA World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia with the vast majority playing their domestic football in either the Hyundai A-League or in other leagues across Asia.

Three uncapped players - Erik Paartalu, Michael Marrone and Mat Ryan - are by definition bolters, while unusually there are only three European-based stars, namely James Troisi, Adam Sarota and long-serving goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.

A host of players return after lengthy absences from the Green & Gold. Mark Bresciano is the highest-profile returnee, while Gold Coast United skipper Michael Thwaite is selected after a five-year absence. Former ever-present David Carney is back after nearly a year away from the Qantas Socceroo camp, while Nicky Carle is also included after a significant absence.

It is a very much a mixture of old and new, know-how and inexperience. But whichever way you cut it, Osieck has selected a squad for the February 29 match at AAMI Park that is perfect fodder over which fans can debate.

We analyse four of the more intriguing selections.

Mark Bresciano It is a long way in every sense from Nelspruit, where Bresciano last appeared for the national team at South Africa 2010, to Melbourne in 2012. It has at times seemingly been a slightly tortured journey but now Bresciano is selected for the first time in the Osieck era after a partly self-imposed absence. One of the most effective, and at times under-rated, players for Australia over the past decade, Bresciano will add experience in a relatively youthful squad. So too, his expertise with the dead-ball will provide an important outlet for the team.

Michael Thwaite The Qantas Socceroo career of the Gold Coast United skipper is a curious one. Half a dozen caps are in his collection, with the tall Cairns product on the bench for arguably the most important game in the nation-s history as the Qantas Socceroos prevailed against Uruguay in November 2005. Now some five years since his last cap, the skilful defender is back in the fray. Coach Osieck spoke glowingly of the mobile utility player pointing to some stand-out performances for his struggling club team.

Erik Paartalu The tall Brisbane Roar midfielder has been one of the cornerstones of the club-s success over the past 18 months. Indeed, his form has been so impressive it would almost have been a surprise had he been left out, despite being uncapped. Now Paartalu has the chance to follow in the footsteps of former Roar midfield colleague Matt McKay by becoming a Hyundai A-League flag bearer in the national team. An ability to play the deep midfield role to perfection, yet push forward and score goals, has seen Paartalu develop into one of the competition-s hottest properties.

Michael Marrone To many the selection of the unheralded Melbourne Heart defender will be biggest surprise of all amongst the 19-man squad. The Adelaide-raised Marrone has not followed the typical pathway to the top missing selection in national youth teams, save for a brief appearance with the Qantas Young Socceroos. Now 25, Marrone has been a virtual ever-present with the Heart and is obviously seen by Osieck as a player that can potentially add depth in the backline.

We want to know what you think? Who do you think were the surprise selections in Holger Osieck-s squad?