'Surprised' Deng ready to make the most of Caltex Socceroos selection

Melbourne Victory defender Thomas Deng admits he was shocked by his call-up to Graham Arnold’s Caltex Socceroos squad.

Deng was one of four uncapped players included in the 25-man squad on Friday for next week’s training camp in the UAE and an international friendly against Kuwait on Tuesday, October 16 (AEST).

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While Deng has represented Australia at youth level, this is his first selection in a senior national squad and the 21-year-old conceded it caught him by surprise.


"When I heard the news two days ago that I was in the final squad, I was surprised," Deng said.

"I’m just amazed and very happy to be called up for my first camp.

“I’m going to go there, work hard and try to enjoy it as much as I can."

While Deng was excellent for Victory in their charge to the Championship in the Hyundai A-League last season, he also impressed Arnold at the recent Australian U-23 training camp in Canberra.

The Kenyan-born defender has played the majority of his young career as a centre-back but Arnold admitted he is also looking at Deng in a potential right-back role.

“He played quite a bit of right-back at Melbourne Victory and did exceptionally well,” the Caltex Socceroos boss told reporters on Friday.

“I had Thomas in camp down in Canberra at the AIS and I was really excited about what he brought to that camp but also the way he dealt with a lot of situations playing right-back in training as well as centre-back.”

The Kuwait match is the first of three key friendlies before Australia’s AFC Asian Cup defence in the UAE in January.

The Caltex Socceroos will play two more friendlies on home soil next month against Korea Republic in Brisbane on Saturday, November 17, before taking on Lebanon in Sydney three days later.