Reducing an initial list of 30 to 27 prior to boarding the plane to Brazil, Coach Ange Postecoglou has confirmed the final 23-man squad to represent Australia in Pool B at the 2014 Soccer World Cup.
With young midfielder Tom Rogic limping from the field during a warm-up hit-out in Vitoria on Monday, veteran striker Josh Kennedy suffering ongoing problems from a back complaint and fresh-faced Newcastle Jets goalkeeper Mark Birighitti all tipped and then confirmed to miss the cut, it was the final omission of Dynamo Moscow defender Luke Wilkshire that came as the biggest shock when Postecoglou’s list was made public on Wednesday morning Australian time.
A veteran of Australia’s 2006 and 2010 Soccer World Cup campaigns, Wilkshire was widely expected to make Postecoglou’s team; if for no other reason than to cover the potential loss of Brisbane Roar’s Ivan Franjic who is currently under an injury cloud of his own.
“We were assessing everyone as we went along … we wanted a certain number of players in midfield and up front. We are going to have to need some variations, but in the end he was the unlucky one who missed out,” Postecoglou said upon announcing the final Australian team list.
Also aiming to contest his third consecutive Soccer World Cup in Brazil, Kennedy’s omission leaves Tim Cahill as the sole recognised striker left in the Australian squad.
“Josh was just a timing thing; he was due to play yesterday and we were quite happy with the way he was going but he pulled up sore with his back, and with the timing of it, there was just too much uncertainty,” Postecoglou said.
Signing a loan deal from mother-club Celtic to play for the A-League’s Melbourne Victory in an attempt to ensure match-time leading into the Soccer World Cup, Rogic’s injury leaves a huge gap in Australia’s attacking-midfield prospects.
“Tommy, we wanted to give him every chance; he was struggling coming into camp,” Postecoglou said.
“We thought we could make some progress with him … he worked pretty hard, but obviously yesterday was a bit of a test for him to see if we could build him up, but I think he knew after the first minute that he just wasn’t right.”
Australian have been drawn alongside current World champions Spain, 2010 finalists The Netherlands and exciting South American outfit Chile in Pool B at the 2014 Soccer World Cup.
The Socceroos’ campaign will kick-off on June 16th against Chile at the Arena Pantanal; a match for which they are currently offered at generous $7.50 odds for success at Ladbrokes.com.au.
Australian Squad for 2014 FIFA World Cup
Goalkeepers: Mat Ryan (Club Brugge), Mitchell Langerak (Borussia Dortmund), Eugene Galekovic (Adelaide United).
Defenders: Ivan Franjic (Brisbane Roar), Jason Davidson (Heracles Almelo), Matthew Spiranovic (Western Sydney Wanderers), Bailey Wright (Preston North End), Alex Wilkinson (Jeonbuk Motors), Ryan McGowan (Shandong Luneng)
Midfielders: Mile Jedinak (Crystal Palace), Mark Milligan (Melbourne Victory), James Holland (Austria Vienna), Massimo Luongo (Swindon Town), Oliver Bozanic (Luzern), Matt McKay (Brisbane Roar), Mark Bresciano (Al-Gharafa)
Attackers: Tim Cahill (New York Red Bulls), Dario Vidosic (Sion), Tommy Oar (FC Utrecht), James Troisi (Melbourne Victory), Ben Halloran (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Adam Taggart (Newcastle Jets), Mathew Leckie (FSV Frankfurt).