Ange Postecoglou has hailed the A-League’s “quality” after naming five of its players in his extended 30-man Australia squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ qualifier in Thailand. Tim Cahill retained his place in the party that drew with Saudi Arabia and Japan earlier this month, while call-ups were handed to Luke Brattan, Jason Geria, Tommy Oar and Josh Risdon. Postecoglou will trim five players once he has assessed this weekend’s Australian domestic matches.
“We have players who are in the squad or on the fringe, including those playing in the A-League, that are just starting their seasons, and with the tight turnaround from Japan to Thailand I wanted to have another look at them after they have showed good signs in the opening rounds,” said the Greece-born former Australia defender. “It is yet another good sign of the depth we are creating, and when we announce the team after this weekend there will be players who miss out that are playing well enough to be part of the squad.
“Luke has been instrumental [for Melbourne City]. He’s been on our radar for a while and has started the season strongly. We’re developing some real depth and quality in that midfield area with the players we have in there at the moment. And they are all continuing their strong form, the likes of [Massimo] Luongo, [Aaron] Mooy, [Tom] Rogic, [Jackson] Irvine, [Mark Milligan] and [Mile] Jedinak. It’s important we’re always casting our eye over guys that can potentially add something to that, whether it’s now or down the track.
“When playing well and in form Tommy [Oar] is someone that does add something to the team. Over the course of the season I have no doubt once he does get comfortable and find some consistency, he will be a standout in the [A-League]. He brings certain qualities that, even at national-team level, add to what we’re doing."
Australia are second in Group B in the third round of Asian qualifying, two points shy of Saudi Arabia and one above Japan. With the Japanese entertaining the Saudis on 15 November, victory in Bangkok could see the Socceroos finish 2016 in pole position.
“We could have had a friendly in this window before the Thai game, but we chose not to have a game,” explained Postecoglou. “As soon as the draw came out, I saw it as a little window for a couple of things. It gives us a chance to have a strong performance and get three points, so we want to make sure that all the usual issues that we have about players coming in and their conditioning, we can get over. And it gives us the chance to have four or five meaningful training sessions, which we don’t usually get.
“We will be in Bangkok for a longer than usual, so we will have a good lead in to ensure we are well prepared. We are currently sitting second in what is a very tight group, and after this game we will be at the halfway stage of qualification, so this game is important.”