Australia coach Ange Postecoglou revealed that Nikolai Topor-Stanley could have made his return to the Socceroos at the World Cup but for his injury in the Hyundai A-League grand final.
Topor-Stanley will end a five-year stint out of the Socceroos' set-up next month, having been selected in Postecoglou's 23-man squad for friendlies against the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
But the Western Sydney Wanderers captain could have played alongside club team-mate Matthew Spiranovic in Brazil, with Postecoglou admitting Topor-Stanley was in the World Cup mix before he limped off with a knee injury in last season's Hyundai A-League decider, which Brisbane Roar won 2-1.
Topor-Stanley last played for Australia in the Socceroos' 1-0 loss to Kuwait in Canberra in an Asian Cup qualifier in 2009.
"He [Topor-Stanley] was one we were looking at because his form was outstanding but, obviously, he got injured in the grand final and that sort of meant he wasn't available for it," Postecoglou said at a press conference in Melbourne on Thursday.
"But I said when I first got the job, 'anyone who shows outstanding form, consistent outstanding form, regardless of where they're playing, is being considered' and that's the case."
Postecoglou revealed Topor-Stanley's performances in the AFC Champions League (ACL), particularly in the Wanderers' semi-final first leg away to FC Seoul last week, had inspired the Socceroos boss to pick the 29-year-old central defender.
"He's had an outstanding couple of years, credit to Western Sydney and to himself, more importantly, he's turned into a really important player for them," he said.
"As I said, watching him in that [AFC] Champions League semi-final last week, you know, he led from the front.
"He's the kind of strong defender, particularly against Asian opposition, that will do well...and looking at our defensive stocks, we're still pretty light on for experience in terms of age."
Topor-Stanley was one of seven inclusions to Postecoglou's squad compared to the group that was part of this month's friendlies against Belgium and Saudi Arabia.
Sydney FC striker Bernie Ibini was also promoted and will make his Socceroos debut if he gets game time against either UAE or Qatar, while Aziz Behich is back for the first time since 2012 with Adam Federici, Ivan Franjic, James Holland and James Troisi also earning recalls.
With Postecoglou continuing to expand "the playing pool" ahead of next year's AFC Asian Cup, the 49-year-old coach claimed Ibini had shown enough in pre-season to be given a shot.
"Bernie's one we think, moving forward, can fit into our structure and the way we want to play our football," he said.
"I guess, from our perspective, the A-League hasn't started and we could've waited to see how he goes but his pre-season's been really good.
"Talking to [Sydney coach] Graham Arnold, he's had a really good pre-season, he did well in the [ Foxtel A-League] All-Stars game and, I guess, we need to take these two games as the opportunity to blood someone like him."
Australia will face the UAE in Abu Dhabi on October 11 (AEST) before taking on Qatar in Doha four days later.
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