It’s in – new boss Graham Arnold has selected his first Caltex Socceroos squad for a training camp in Turkey next month.
Arnold has named 31-players for the week-long camp in Antalya, the base Australia used in the preparations for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
While this camp is unlikely to be as intense as what the players faced in the build-up for Russia, it’s going to be vitally important for Arnold ahead of the Caltex Socceroos’ AFC Asian Cup title defence in January.
And looking at the new coach’s first squad, it’s a big opportunity for a number of youngsters and new faces to stake their claims for the future.
Arnold has never been afraid to give young talent a chance throughout his coaching career in the Hyundai A-League and it seems he’ll continue that trend with the national team.
Uncapped trio Awer Mabil of FC Midtylland, Hearts left-back Ben Garuccio and Barnsley midfielder Kenneth Dougall have all been rewarded for their consistent form in Europe.
Arnold has stated publicly he wanted to look to the future and the additions of the trio – along with U19 pair Denis Genreau and John Iredale - is certainly a nod to that.
Not only are they young and in-form, they also provide the speed, attacking instinct and athleticism the new boss is expected to require at the Asian Cup.
Especially in the case of 22-year-old Mabil – fresh from scoring his first goal for his club earlier this week - who possesses lightning pace and dribbling ability down the flanks.
As well as those fresh faces, Arnold has also giving a host of players a second-chance in the green and gold.
The likes of Bailey Wright, Mustafa Amini, Mitchell Duke, Apostolos Giannou, Ajdin Hrustic, Mitchell Langerak, Alex Gersbach, and Aleksandar Susnjar have all been around the national team in the past but missed out on the recent FIFA World Cup.
But perhaps the most interesting part of the camp will be the competition for the striker’s spot.
It’s the position that appears most up for grabs and seems an open race among a host of candidates.
With Andrew Nabbout – who started two games in Russia – out through injury and Australia’s greatest-ever scorer in Tim Cahill retiring after the FIFA World Cup, there is a battle to be Australia’s next no.9.
An accomplished striker for Australia himself in his playing days, Arnold will be tasked with finding the man who will lead the line in the AFC Asian Cup opener against Jordan on January 6.
It presents a great opportunity to players like Tomi Juric and Jamie Maclaren - who both went to June’s FIFA World Cup – while the returning Cyprus-based Apostolos Giannou and Duke (who plays in Japan) can also press their claims.
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