Squad Announcement Talking Points: Duo to return in October
With Graham Arnold officially unveiling his squad to take part in October's FIFA World Cup Qualifiers against Oman and Japan, we delve into some of the key talking points that have emerged!
The Socceroos’ quest to qualify for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ will continue in Qatar and Japan over the next fortnight, with 25 players today named to represent Australia throughout the upcoming FIFA window.
After commencing the Final Round of AFC Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar fixtures with a pair of wins against China PR and Vietnam in September, the Socceroos will be out to build on their strong start in Group B when they take on Oman in Doha (October 7) and Japan in Saitama (October 12).
Read on to find out more about the group set to assemble in camp in the coming days.
They're back: Ikonomidis and Karacic return
After being declared unavailable for September's Socceroos action, both Chris Ikonomidis and Fran Karacic are set to return to the frame this month, for their first taste of Round 3 Asian Qualifying.
Ikonomidis, like many A-League-based players, was unable to travel to Doha and Hanoi last time out due to the ongoing impact of Australian quarantine restrictions.
This time around, Ikonomidis has committed to the October window despite the prospect of having to undertake two weeks of hotel quarantine upon his return to Australia - in a similar fashion to teammate Rhyan Grant.
Football Australia is currently consulting with the Victorian State Government regarding the possibility of Ikonomidis being able to self-isolate at home instead of entering hotel quarantine upon his return home, with the view of providing the player with a more conducive environment to support physical and mental wellbeing while preparing for the A-League Men’s 2021/22 season and future national team selection.
Regardless of the circumstances around his selection, the Melbourne Victory man is set to inject a significant spark in the final third for Graham Arnold's side.
After impressing at the 2019 AFC Asian Cup in Green and Gold, Ikonomidis endured a long-term knee injury - only to come back fitter than ever before, starring on his return to domestic action late last season and earning a call-up to represent Australia in June, making a couple of exciting cameo appearances off the bench.
"We're very grateful to Melbourne Victory and Tony Popvic and Chris," Socceroos Head Coach Graham Arnold explained.
"It's a very difficult position to be in at the moment, with the other players not being able to come. But at the same time, when I spoke to Chris, he's in great shape and has been working hard at Melbourne Victory.
"He wasn't in physical condition for the last camp, but the individual wants to be here, wants to come to this camp, and it would be great if the Government could help Chris on his return from this camp with some self-isolation."
Fran Karacic also last appeared for the Socceroos in June - a month that the Croatia-born defender will never forget.
Three years after his first taste of Socceroos camp, Karacic was finally handed his international debut against Kuwait.
He found his maiden international goal during his second appearance, slotting home a strike during Australia's 3-0 win over Nepal.
After suffering a setback in pre-season due to injury, Karacic has been recovering with his club outfit Brescia FC - where he recently returned to the Serie B club's matchday squad.
A player that excited Socceroos fans earlier this year, many will be looking forward to seeing Karacic pull on the Green and Gold again this month.
Consistency is key
Apart from the inclusions of Ikonomidis and Karacic, Graham Arnold has been fortunately able to stick with the core of his squad from last month's action.
After securing a historic 10-straight FIFA World Cup qualifying wins in a single campaign, the Socceroos are well poised to kick on as they approach some of their toughest assignments yet.
The likes of Tom Rogic and Aaron Mooy were welcomed back into the fold last month, and will look to continue to grow in influence this time around.
Rogic, who started against China and Vietnam, continues to play week in, week out, for Celtic. Mooy, on the other hand, has been keeping fit in Scotland under the watchful eye of Socceroos' High Performance Coordinator Andrew Clark.
Yet again, plenty of Socceroos have enjoyed a strong month of action in clubland.
Martin Boyle continues to steal the headlines in Scotland, having already registered double figures for high-flying Hibernian this season.
Maty Ryan has enjoyed his first La Liga minutes for new club Real Sociedad, while Harry Souttar has captained Stoke City on multiple occassions as they look to amount a push for promotion to the Premier League.
Kenny Dougall and Callum Elder are also cutting their teeth in the Championship, playing important parts for Blackpool and Hull City respectively.
Since last month's matches, Jackson Irvine has enjoyed his starting debut with FC St. Pauli, as has Denis Genreau who grabbed an assist on his first full match for Ligue 2 outfit Toulouse.
Not to mention Ajdin Hrustic, Awer Mabil and Milos Degenek, who are all part of clubs that have commenced campaigns in the Europa League.
All in all, there will be plenty of players entering October's internationals with momentum that can be channelled into their performances for the Socceroos.
A couple of exciting contenders
Beyond the 25 players named for October's action, there have been another couple of names on the lips of Australian football fans.
Speaking on the Socceroos Insider - October Squad Announcement Edition, Socceroos Head Coach Graham Arnold provided some insight into the current situation involving Deni Juric and Gianni Stensness.
"I spoke to Deni about four days ago," he said.
"At the moment he's making a decision over the next three or four weeks. He's got an ankle injury at the moment and wouldn't have been available for this camp anyway.
"We had a great conversation around what the future looks like, obviously his brother Tom has played for the Socceroos. For me, he has to make that decision, he has to want to play for the Socceroos - so we are in touch with him and would love nothing more than for Deni to play for Australia."
"Gianni Stensness has chosen to play for Australia and the Socceroos. We're just waiting for his paperwork to be cleared by FIFA, before we can get Gianni into camp," he added.
"He's doing extremely well at this club, and will be a great acquisition for the Socceroos."