Socceroos given extra time to impress
FOOTBALL: Ange Postecoglou will give players a chance to impress this weekend after naming an extended squad for next month's World Cup qualifier with Thailand in Bangkok.
The Socceroos coach will trim the squad to 23 ahead of the tie on November 15.
Postecoglou will get more time with his squad ahead of the game after he and the FFA opted not to have a friendly in FIFA's window for internationals.
Five A-League players have been chosen in the 30-man squad.
Melbourne City's Luke Brattan has been rewarded for a good start to the season, being picked alongside club teammate Tim Cahill, Melbourne Victory's Jason Geria, Josh Risdon from the Perth Glory and Brisbane Roar's Tommy Oar.
Brattan, Geria, Risdon and Oar join Nathan Burns, Milos Degenek and Aziz Behich as additions to the squad that drew 2-2 with Saudi Arabia and 1-1 with Japan earlier this month.
"We have decided to name an extended squad for this game so I can have another look at the matches being played all over the world this weekend,” Postecoglou said.
"We have players who are in the squad or on the fringe, including those playing in the Hyundai A-League, that are just starting their seasons and with the tight turnaround from Japan to Thailand I wanted to have another look at them after they have showed good signs in the opening rounds.
"It is yet another good sign of the depth we are creating and when we announce the team after this weekend there will be players who miss out that are playing well enough to be part of the squad.”
There was some doubt the game against Thailand would go ahead in Bangkok following the death of the Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej.
But now the fixture has been confirmed, Postecoglou said he was glad to be working with the players for a bit longer in a crucial stage of qualification.
"We are happy that the game is going ahead as scheduled in Bangkok but completely understand the sensitivities following the death of the king of Thailand,” he said.
"We will be in Bangkok for a longer than usual period as we only have one match in this window, so we will have a good lead-in to ensure we are well prepared.
"We are currently sitting second in what is a very tight group and after this game we will be at the halfway stage of qualification so this game is important.”
The Socceroos are two points behind leader Saudi Arabia.
Japan is third in the group and with the Socceroos to face the Saudis at home and the Japanese away, the road to Russia in 2018 could get a little bumpy.
The two top sides automatically qualify for the World Cup finals.
The third-placed teams in both AFC Groups will then play each other home and away for the opportunity to face the fourth-placed team from CONCACAF (Central and North America) in a home and away series for the final place in Russia.
SOCCEROOS SQUAD: Adam Federici, Mitch Langerak, Mat Ryan, Aziz Behich, Milos Degenek, Jason Geria, Alex Gersbach, Ryan McGowan, Josh Risdon, Trent Sainsbury, Brad Smith, Matthew Spiranovic, Bailey Wright, Luke Brattan, Chris Ikonomidis, Jackson Irvine, Mile Jedinak, James Jeggo, Massimo Luongo, Mark Milligan, Aaron Mooy, Tom Rogic, Nathan Burns, Tim Cahill, Apostolos Giannou, Craig Goodwin, Tomi Juric, Robbie Kruse, Mathew Leckie, Tommy Oar