The hit series "So You Wanna Be A Socceroo?" is approaching its climax with the cast being trimmed to 46 by coach Ange Postecoglou.
The search for a new-look Socceroo team has taken on the feel of a TV talent show as we've watched footballers from near and far being given a chance to put themselves on show in search of a spot in Postecoglou's AFC Asian Cup squad.
After a series of auditions conducted across the globe, the Socceroo boss has named a provisional squad almost equivalent in size to the number of players he has given the chance to represent Australia since he took on the job 15 months ago.
It's been a total renovation of the national team that resembles "The Block".
The 46 named will be pared back to 23 as the team head into camp just after Christmas.
That final group will then carry the responsibility of striving to secure the Socceroos’ first piece of meaningful silverware, the AFC Asian Cup.
Ange Postecoglou has continued to insist that form and regular football would be the key to selection and to that end Wellington Phoenix's Nathan Burns has made an irresistible case for inclusion.
Burns has been the form striker in the Hyundai A-League having netted eight times at time of writing.
As the Socceroos struggle to find a fresh source of goal scoring power, his current run of form couldn't be more perfectly timed.
Burns is one of 16 Hyundai A-League players included in the squad as Postecoglou continues to keep faith that the local competition is capable of producing the next generation of Socceroos.
ll 23 players who represented Australia in Brazil are included here, as are three key players who were sorely missed during this year’s World Cup campaign. Robbie Kruse, Josh Kennedy and Rhys Williams provide Postecoglou with a wider portfolio of options in defence and attack.
Williams' star-crossed career might be kick-started by a strong showing in January. His mobility and versatility would provide a huge boost to a defence that has shipped goals regularly in the past 12 months.
Kennedy is a proven goal scorer and the sort of physical presence that has unsettled opponents previously.
Though Kruse has had cameos in recent Socceroo expeditions, we are yet to see the pace and precision that became his trademark as he made his mark first in the Hyundai A-League and then in Germany.
If any of these players are able to make a meaningful contribution in the tournament it will go a long way to driving Australia on to success.
The real bonus will be if Postecoglou can find a "bolter" who might take the tournament by surprise.
Certainly Massimo Luongo has the potential to be that player. He might be plying his trade in England's old third division with Swindon Town but don't be fooled.
Luongo is a box to box midfielder with a few tricks up his sleeve.
Mustafa Amini has had to be patient whilst being schooled under Jurgen Klopp at Bourissa Dortmund and may relish the chance to prove a point if he is granted an opportunity.
And whilst Roma bound Perth teenager Daniel De Silva's story is only just beginning he looks ready, willing and able.
With Ange Postecoglou's unwavering faith in youth his time may come sooner than expected.
Whoever makes the final squad of 23 one thing is for certain. The auditions are done.
It's show time.
*The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author, and do not reflect those of Football Federation Australia*
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