Graham Arnold’s new-looks Socceroos
Graham Arnold offered a first insight into what could lie ahead for the Socceroos when he named his first squad as Australia boss04 September 2018 | Matthew Galea
Featuring no less than five uncapped players and a further 13 players with less than 10 caps to their names, the winds of change have blown through the Socceroos squad after a disappointing World Cup campaign.
Arnold's predecessor, Bert van Marwijk, did a decent job of pulling together a solid effort from the Socceroos in Brazil, but with a squad that included the likes of Tim Cahill, Mile Jedinak, Mark Milligan, James Meredith and Robbie Kruse – all 29-years-old and older – the first post-World Cup squad was always going to have a more youthful look.
With no games to play in this camp, perhaps Arnold feels now is the best time to introduce new blood to the Socceroos camp, especially with Mathew Leckie, Tom Rogic and James Meredith all unavailable through injury.
Since his formal appointment, Arnold has been extremely positive about the quality of youth coming through the Australian system, and he will get his first real chance to see how some of those youngsters handle themselves in the Australian set-up.
So, how much does this squad selection give an insight into Arnold's plans for the 2019 Asian Cup and beyond to the 2022 World Cup?
Let's take a look.
Tiding over a new generation
It's fair to say that, from the newly picked squad, Mile Jedinak and Mark Milligan will not be around should the Socceroos qualify for a fifth-straight World Cup.
Still, these old heads have plenty of experience and know-how to pass onto a new generation and while they will unlikely feature prominently in the 2022 Qualifying Campaign, much less the showpiece itself – should Australia qualify.
It will be interesting to see what sort of role Milligan and Jedinak are asked to perform at the Asian Cup, should they make the squad at all, but their selection for the camp shows that Arnold recognises he needs some sort of bridge between the outgoing brigade and the new generation.
The likes of Robbie Kruse, who turns 30 this year, may also be unlikely to make the cut in 2022 but remains relevant heading into the Asian Cup.
The players on the periphery are no doubt where the most intrigue lies in this squad selection, but there's no doubting that there will be few changes in the spine of the team.
Mathew Ryan, Trent Sainsbury, Aziz Behich, Milos Degenek, Robbie Kruse, Aaron Mooy, Tomi Juric and the unselected Mathew Leckie and Tom Rogic will be central to Arnold's vision.
A second chance?
You can split the 13 capped players with 10 caps or less in the newest Socceroos squad into two rough categories. Those Arnold may look to give a second chance to fulfil their potential and those who have only sprung onto the scene recently.
The likes of Mustafa Amini, Mitchell Duke, Apostolos Giannou and Matthew Jurman fit into the former category and will all be looking to make their mark on Arnold's thinking.
Truth be told, all four will need to find entirely new levels to their game to have a chance of adding considerably to their collective 15 caps.
You can throw goalkeepers Brad Jones, Mitch Langerak and Danny Vukovic in the same ring.
The focus on finding a bonafide goalscorer means Giannou is naturally a selection of intrigue.
He has been in decent form of late, starting the 2017-18 season well with four goals in 11 games for his club AEK Larnaca and looks the best poised of this group to earn a spot in Arnold's new-look Roos.
By contrast, Duke is yet to open his account since moving to Japan with Shimizu S-Pulse.
Alex Gersbach is another player who we have seen little of in a Socceroos shirt but one packing potential.
The new kids
So, what about the rest of the crew?
The reality is we know plenty about the other groups within the squad, but if the Socceroos are going to improve in leaps in bounds over the next four years, it will come from this group of youngsters.
Daniel Arzani is yet to make his bow in the Scottish Premier League for Celtic but the Australian footballing public watches on with great excitement to see what the Socceroos' golden boy can do on the European public.
The Iraqi-born winger lit up the A-League last season and every Australian fan will be hoping his club career is in good hands with his on-loan manager Brendan Rogers and his parent club manager Pep Guardiola.
And while Arzani is certainly front and centre on the average Australian football fan's radar, the selections of attackers Awer Mabil, Denis Genrau, Aidin Hrustic and John Iredale show where Arnold's focus is.
Mabil will be well known to die-hard A-League fans, but since leaving Aussie shores he has amassed 61 appearances between his parent club FC Midtjylland and loan clubs Esbjerg FB and Pacos de Ferreira, scoring just seven league goals.
Denis Genrau has taken PEC Zwolle by storm since signing from Melbourne City. He did not get much of a chance under Warren Joyce but enjoyed a free-scoring pre-season at his loan club and has laid on one assist from his first three league games for the club.
Aidin Hrustic is yet to open his Eredivisie account for FC Groningen this season but continues to be in favour at the club has shown fine form last season and remains one of Arnold's brightest prospects.
Perhaps the most interesting call-up is that of John Iredale, another young Australian forward looking to find his way in Holland. Iredale is yet to make a senior appearance but is a former youth product of Sydney FC, no doubt where Arnold has become familiar with the striker from.
The camp will give Iredale a chance to show Arnold how he is tracking as he looks to make his senior debut this season, but he surely remains some way off the Socceroos starting line-up.
There is no shortage of fresh attacking talent for Arnold to consider, but it remains equally obvious that none of the candidates is making big enough waves to displace Tomi Juric – which unfortunately is not saying much.
Arnold, emboldened by the lack of games to play, has rightly given a good number of new players the chance to improve in camp, but he will be hoping that when the players disperse from Turkey, they can take their club games to a new level to help spur the Socceroos to future glory.
socceroos, graham arnold