Mitch Langerak has been overtaken in the battle for a goalkeeper spot for Russia.
Mitch Langerak has been overtaken in the battle for a goalkeeper spot for Russia.

Surprise Socceroos cuts for World Cup warm-ups

A BUNCH of new faces will get the chance to earn a shot at the World Cup, but striker Jamie Maclaren faces international heartbreak again after new Socceroos boss Bert van Marwijk confirmed the 26 players he will deploy in two friendlies later this month.

Maclaren, Alex Gersbach and Mitch Langerak were the three names discarded from the 29-man provisional squad unveiled last week, meaning wingers Andrew Nabbout and Dimitri Petratos will travel to Oslo on Sunday with the chance to force their way into van Marwijk's plans for the games with Norway and Colombia.

Petratos, chosen after a stellar season for Newcastle, joins Sydney FC's Josh Brillante, Wanderers fullback Josh Risdon and Melbourne Victory attacker James Troisi in a sizeable A-League contingent, while Nabbout is rewarded for the form at Newcastle which also earned him a move to Urawa Red Diamonds in Japan a week ago.

For Maclaren there is the familiar sense of isolation, after being kept on the margins by Ange Postecoglou, van Marwijk's predecessor, and despite scoring for Hibernian last weekend.

Czech-based defender Aleksandar Susnjar impressed Socceroos assistant coach Ante Milicic in the Asian U23 Championships in January, and may get a chance to play with Matt Jurman and Trent Sainsbury included but not having played since having surgery in recent months.

Both are believed to be training fully with their clubs, Grasshopper of Zurich and Suwon Bluewings, and van Marwijk is keen to view them in close up given their excellent form for the national team last year.

"I am looking forward to the chance to get together with (all) the players and work with them for the first time and to get to know them," said van Marwijk.

"We must ensure that we get the maximum possible out of the next two weeks in camp, because our time is limited.

"Our friendly matches against Norway and Colombia will be important, but the focus, commitment and application of all the players, coaches and staff from day one until the moment we leave London will be crucial.

"We need to ensure that we use the time that we have together wisely so that we advance our preparations for Russia," he said.

The players will assemble in Oslo on Monday, before taking on the host nation early on Saturday, March 24 (EST), and then transferring to London to take on Colombia early the following Wednesday (EST).

The camp will be van Marwijk's only chance to work with his players before naming an initial squad of up to 35 players by May 14.

That has to be reduced to 23 by June 4, shortly before Australia lands in Russia for the World Cup.



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