Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou insists he will continue with his bold selection policy and says the door is ajar for any player around the world to press their claims for national honours.
Last week Postecoglou named three uncapped players in his 23-man squad for upcoming friendlies against Germany and FYR Macedonia, including little-known 19-year-old Chris Ikonomidis.
Speaking on Fox Sports’ Shoot-Out program, Postecoglou admitted Ikonomidis was not ready for a senior call-up but said it was important to recognise the long-term benefits of introducing players to the Socceroos set-up.
“Chris is a young guy who’s forging his way in the world of football,” Postecoglou said.
“He’s yet to play a senior game so he’s very far off from saying he warrants senior Socceroo selection but from my perspective we made some bold decisions in the lead up to the Asian Cup and I want to continue that.
“If we can give him some encouragement so that he goes back to his club, Lazio, to break into that team, we’re going to have a handy player for us. There’s no massive expectation from our point of view, it’s about bringing him into the environment.
“If he’s training next to some of our best players and taking it all in, when he goes back to his club I reckon he’ll feel a little bit taller and want to make more of an impact.”
Since his appointment in October 2013, Postecoglou made no secret of his desire to regenerate the national team and introduce players capable of implementing a high tempo, possession-based style.
Although Australia’s Asian Cup triumph may have vindicated Postecoglou’s approach, he insists change needed to be made in order for the Socceroos to remain competitive on the international stage.
“I’m just trying to break the traditional mold of just saying you’ve got to be performing at a certain level for us to say you’re going to be an effective and fantastic player for us,” he said.
“We had to do that. We had to artificially create a re-generation because if we waited for top players to play at top clubs before selecting them, we’d probably be staying with the same players that we had and we knew that was coming to the end of a cycle.
“I think that with someone like Massimo Luongo they get belief by going to the World Cup. They come back to their clubs and feel a little more important – I think their clubs treat them like they’re a little more important.
“So whether it’s Mass Luongo, Trent Sainsbury, Chris Ikonomidis in this camp, I think it helps them in their growth and maybe accelerates it a bit."
Meanwhile, Tim Cahill appears firmly a part of Postecoglou’s plans moving forward, with the 35-year-old’s experience seen as crucial given the recent retirement of midfielder Mark Bresciano.
“I think (Cahill) is still an effective enough player for us that he’s there on form and while he’s doing that I think we select him,” he said.
“Guys like Matty McKay, Mark Milligan need to (step up) but if we lost Timmy as well then it’s a really inexperienced group. Thankfully it’s not a decision I need to think about. He’s still in good enough form to be selected.”
The Socceroos face Germany in Kaiserslautern on March 25, before taking on FYR Macedonia in Skopje five days later. Both internationals will be broadcast LIVE on Fox Sports.
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