Youngsters can start insists Verbeek

Youngsters Daniel Mullen and Mitch Nichols will have just as much chance of starting for the Socceroos against Kuwait, as their more experienced counterparts insists coach Pim Verbeek.

Youngsters Daniel Mullen, Mitch Nichols and Fabian Barbiero will have just as much chance of starting for the Socceroos against Kuwait, as their more experienced counterparts insists coach Pim Verbeek.

Verbeek has been greatly impressed by the trio and all are in line to make their national team debut, when the Socceroos face Kuwait in their Asian Cup qualifier on Thursday March 5 at Canberra Stadium. Kick-off for the match is 8.00pm.

The squad is essentially the same as the one that went to Indonesia in January and secured a valuable 0-0 draw, with only Central Coast striker Dylan Macallister not included. Verbeek revealed he preferred Nichols, who has been in tremendous form during the finals series. Ben Kantarovski will also be in camp, but he is there more for the experience and will not be considered for the final squad of 18.

Despite their age and inexperience at international level, Verbeek doesn-t believe that will hurt their prospects of starting the match, insisting if they weren-t capable of starting they would not have been selected.

“In principle, we have 3 keepers and 20 outfield players who are all fighting for the 11 starting positions,” Verbeek said from Canberra Stadium, where he officially announced the squad. “All these players have the chance to be in the final 11.

“I will have to disappoint a few players, but they can all show over the next week what they can do. I am looking forward to going into camp here in Canberra; the field is fantastic; the stadium is really nice and I think it will be a great game on Thursday.”

“(Daniel) Mullen before he was injured, we were already thinking of taking him to Indonesia; (Robert) Cornthwaite was already on the list and got injured, so they are back in the squad.

“(Fabian) Barbiero was a player we were looking at for a long time and he did very well last week and is always good to have a player of his age in the selection mix. He-s a midfield player and he-s still young; he-s an interesting player and I think he deserves to be part of this selection.”

The selection of Queensland Roar attacking midfielder Mitch Nichols seemed to capture the most interest among the media, after almost steering his team to the Grand Final.

“Yep interesting player; he-s doing very well,” Verbeek said of Nichols. “I have seen all the Roar games over the last few months and he keeps on going and he-s always there in the penalty box.

“He should be a little bit more cool in front of the goal, but he-s at a good age; a good guy; can play in an attacking role and for me and the coaching staff, it-s good to have him in this final group.”

Verbeek said there was never any intention to bring any overseas players back for this game, despite reports that he was considering bringing several back in the past few days. Given the day and date of the game, there is basically next to no chance of them getting back to their clubs in Europe for the weekend.

“I have no idea where that came from; wishful thinking perhaps from some journalists,” he said. “We have a good selection; we are good enough to beat Kuwait, because that is what it-s all about. There was never any thought of selecting a player from outside (Australia).”