Socceroos go to war for injured star Mooy
Socceroos coach Graham Arnold is prepared to take on English Premier League club Huddersfield to get Socceroos star Aaron Mooy on the pitch at the Asian Cup next month.
Arnold announced his squad at 11am (AEDT) on Thursday and flagged his intent to have Mooy with the rest of the team in the UAE during the tournament despite Huddersfield making him off limits following his knee injury last month.
Just 23 Socceroos players will travel to United Arab Emirates next week as Australia prepare to defend the title won by Ange Postecoglou’s side in 2015.
Arnold’s squad contains a series of surprises, including the omission of star striker Tomi Juric.
Mooy and Rogic named.
Chris Ikonomidis in. No Antonis or Goodwin.
Tomi Juric this big omission. Tough on a man who has lead the line more than any other over the last four years but game time is lacking in Switzerland. @Socceroos squad announcement now on @FOXSportsNews ⚽️🇦🇺— Daniel Garb (@DanielGarb)
Juric, with just three league starts in Switzerland and no goals all season, could not be selected on form — and Arnold was forced to swing the axe.
“I explained the situation to Tomi,” Arnold said.
“Tomi understands clearly. He understands that he needs to be playing club football. Of course he’s disappointed, but I’d rather focus on the ones that are there. The players that are there.”
Juric and James Jeggo were the only players who featured in last month’s squads for friendlies against South Korea and Lebanon to be overlooked on Thursday when Arnold made the announcement at North Bondi Surf Life Saving Club.
In Juric’s place, Arnold has put his faith in a pacy forward line featuring Mat Leckie, Jamie Maclaren and veteran Robbie Kruse.
“The need for speed is up front,” he said.
“We’ve got goalscorers everywhere … it’s an exciting attacking team.” “If you look right across the front line there’s eight players that can make a difference.”
Mooy has been provisionally named in the squad before a medical later this week, with Socceroos staff still hopeful the Huddersfield man can overcome a knee issue.
Arnold has confirmed reports the Socceroos have hired an independent physician to assess Mooy’s knee to prove to Huddersfield that they have no legitimate reason to try to stop Mooy from playing in the tournament.
Mooy has until January 5 to prove his fitness, before Arnold submits his official squad to tournament officials.
Arnold said during the announcement that it was Mooy’s request for the Socceroos to seek an independent third party to assess his knee.
“Aaron wants to go to the Asian Cup. He’s asked for the second opinion,” Arnold said.
“The kid wants to go to the Asian Cup and the kid wants to play for Huddersfield.
“I expect Aaron to be there.”
Meanwhile, Perth Glory’s Chris Ikonomidis has snuck into the squad, while 22-year-old Ajdin Hrustic, who plays his club football in the Netherlands, has been included as a shadow-squad member.
22 of the 23 players that have been selected have been part of either camps or matches under Arnold since September, with 23-year-old Perth Glory flyer Ikonomidis the exception.
Andrew Nabbout and Jamie Maclaren have also been selected.
Australia’s opening match of the Asian Cup comes on January 6.
Australia will need to get past Jordan, Palestine, and Syria to make it out of Group B at the tournament.
Players will spend Christmas with their families and in many cases play in club matches on Boxing Day before uniting in UAE.
This is the first tournament squad in a generation not to feature veterans Tim Cahill or Mile Jedinak but Arnold said the quality of the group made him confident of repeating their 2015 effort.
“I expect to go into every game expecting to win every game,” he said.
“We have seven games and I expect to win every game.”
SOCCEROOS SQUAD FOR ASIAN CUP
Mustafa Amini, Aziz Behich, Martin Boyle, Milos Degenek, Alex Gersbach, Rhyan Grant, Chris Ikonomidis, Jackson Irvine, Matthew Jurman, Robbie Kruse, Mitchell Langerak (Gk), Mathew Leckie, Massimo Luongo, Awer Mabil, Jamie Maclaren, Mark Milligan (C), Aaron Mooy, Andrew Nabbout, Josh Risdon, Tom Rogic, Mathew Ryan (Gk), Trent Sainsbury, Daniel Vukovic (Gk)
— FOX SPORTS Australia (@FOXSportsAUS)