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Cahill only A-Leaguer in Socceroos squad

AAP logoAAP 17/08/2016 By Ben Mckay

Tim Cahill is the only Australian-based player to feature in the Socceroos squad for two World Cup qualifiers next month as coach Ange Postecoglou looks to avoid a repeat of last year's Middle Eastern loss.

Newly-returned to Australia after signing with Melbourne City, the veteran striker leads an experienced group of 23 players named by coach Ange Postecoglou on Wednesday to take on Iraq in Perth on September 1 and United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi five days later.

Matthew Spiranovic is back in the squad for the first time since October and Massimo Luongo returns after missing the friendly series with Greece.

Front of Postecoglou's mind for this squad was fitness, given Australia's sole qualifying defeat in four years came in October last year, when Australia was defeated by Jordan in Amman.

"We saw last year at this time, the September-October window, that players who came in that were underdone really struggled," Postecoglou said.

"The primary thing for me when we got this squad together was to make sure whoever we bring in has good fitness.

"Both Iraq and UAE present challenges for us and every player will need to be ready to hit the ground running."

That means there's no place for locally-based Asian Cup winners Alex Wilkinson, James Troisi and Matt McKay, or recent call-ups Jamie Maclaren, Jason Geria and Josh Risdon.

Postecoglou said in a perfect world, the five-month A-League off-season would be shortened by bringing forward the league's start from October.

The squad is one of Postecoglou's most experienced since coming to the job in late 2013, with no untried players and an average of 23 caps among the players.

Tomi Juric has been rewarded for his fine start with his new Swiss club Luzern, and will vie for a striking role with Cahill, China-based bolter Apostolos Giannou and Nathan Burns.

The matches come "a little bit too early" for Craig Goodwin, who scored in his first start for new Dutch club Sparta Rotterdam on the weekend.

Postecoglou said he was pleased with his work in growing the pool of international talent at his disposal.

"We've now arrived at the final stage of World Cup qualifying where we will face a stronger group of opponents in testing conditions and we are comfortable that we have a core group of players with a stronger base of international experience."

SOCCEROOS SQUAD

Goalkeepers: Adam Federici, Mitchell Langerak, Mat Ryan.

Defenders: Milos Degenek, Alex Gersbach, Ryan McGowan, Trent Sainsbury, Brad Smith, Matthew Spiranovic, Bailey Wright.

Midfielders: Chris Ikonomidis, Jackson Irvine, Mile Jedinak, Massimo Luongo, Mark Milligan, Aaron Mooy, Tom Rogic,

Forwards: Nathan Burns, Tim Cahill, Apostolos Giannou, Tomi Juric, Robbie Kruse, Mathew Leckie.

MATCH DETAILS

Thursday, September 1 - Australia v Iraq - NIB Stadium, Perth

Tuesday, September 6 - United Arab Emirates v Australia - Mohamed Bin Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi

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