Tim Sperliotis

The Socceroos squad for November’s friendlies against South Korea and Lebanon has been announced, with a couple of selections catching the eye of fans.

Martin Boyle looks set to make his national debut, as well as James Jeggo, who has several youth caps. Andrew Nabbout returns from the shoulder injury he suffered at the World Cup, while Craig Goodwin, Rhyan Grant, Thomas Deng and Dimitri Petratos are included in the squad as ‘train-on’ players, who all could be selected for the Lebanon match.

The inclusion of these players, who have started their A-League seasons strongly, shows that manager Graham Arnold rewards players on form, instead of just their name.

Arnold mentioned in the press conference that there are several players that are nearing selection.
“I only look at the positive things and the pool is getting deeper,” Arnold said.

There are many Australian players in the A-League that are doing well at their clubs and could soon be in the frame for a national team call-up. Arnold’s comment highlights that the competition for places is getting hotter.

Albeit being selected in the train-on squad, take Rhyan Grant for example. Josh Risdon has been the right-back selection for the Socceroos for the last couple of years, however Grant’s strong 2018 form after recovering from his ACL injury has him as a shout to start over Risdon. Grant was in the frame for selection after his 2016/17 season that saw him stand out in Sydney FC’s double winning season, however his injury set him back for months.

Goodwin is another that is close to a starting position. He offers pace on the left-hand side, with his left foot capable of a stunning strike. His A-League form suggests he is ready for the national team, with an outstanding week where he scored five goals in three matches. He could be a player that makes a difference in January’s Asian Cup and his speed could trouble defences.

Finally, Boyle could be the man that solves the Socceroos goal-scoring problem, with a strong record in Scotland. With Mile Jedinak and Tim Cahill no longer in the squad, the Socceroos need players that can put the ball in the back of the net, and Boyle may be the one to do it. Manager Arnold is full of praise for the Scottish-born player and his surprise inclusion may work in Australia’s favour.

The next few months shapes up as an exciting period for Australian football fans. With a new manager in charge and the inclusion of some exciting players, it will be a period of interest and could possibly lead the Socceroos to their second consecutive Asian Cup trophy.

Tim Sperliotis