Forgotten forward Nikita Rukavytsya has been included in Australia’s preliminary 30-man squad for next month’s make-or-break World Cup qualifying play-off against Syria.
Socceroos head coach Ange Postecoglou named an extended squad ahead of the first leg against Syria in Malaysia on October 5, with Rukavytsya back in the fold as well as captain Mile Jedinak.
The 30-year-old has scored four goals in seven games for top-flight Israeli side Maccabi Haifa and could get the chance to add to his 13 caps – his last appearance coming in a friendly against Canada in 2013.
Skipper Jedinak, who failed to make Aston Villa’s squad last week, could play his first match for the Socceroos since June’s qualifier against Saudi Arabia if he overcomes a groin injury and proves his fitness, having missed the Confederations Cup.
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Experienced centre-back Matthew Spiranovic has been axed following last month’s qualifiers against Japan and Thailand, with defensive options Aziz Behich, Matthew Jurman and Josh Risdon coming into the squad.
Dutch-based winger Craig Goodwin also comes into the initial squad, along with James Jeggo before Postecoglou culls his roster to 23 players next week.
“There is a short turnaround from the last matches so we are fully focused on these upcoming fixtures against Syria,” Postecoglou said.
“The players that we have selected for these crucial matches all have the benefit of several club matches under their belts over the past few weeks, and I am confident whichever 23 players we settle on will be able to do the job next month.
“Now that the match venues have been confirmed, we will prepare for our fixtures against Syria just like every other international opposition we faced throughout this campaign.”
Malaysia will be the location for the opening leg of the play-off, before the Socceroos welcome Syria to Sydney on October 10.
The winner will advance to the inter-confederation play-offs, which pits the AFC against CONCACAF.
Mark Birighitti (NAC Breda), Mitchell Langerak (Levante), Mathew Ryan (Brighton and Hove Albion), Danny Vukovic (Genk); Aziz Behic (Bursaspor), Milos Degenek (Yokohama F. Marinos), Alex Gersbach (Rosenborg), Mathew Jurman (Suwon Bluewings), Ryan McGowan (Al-Sharjah), Josh Risdon (Western Sydney Wanderers), Trent Sainsbury (Jiangsu Suning), Brad Smith (Bournemouth), Bailey Wright (Bristol City); Mustafa Amini (AGF Aarhus), Craig Goodwin (Sparta Rotterdam), Jackson Irvine (Hull City), Mile Jedinak (Aston Villa), James Jeggo (Sturm Graz), Massimo Luongo (QPR), Awer Mabil (Pacos de Ferreira), Mark Milligan (Melbourne Victory), Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield Town), Tom Rogic (Celtic), James Troisi (Melbourne Victory); Tim Cahill (Melbourne City), Robbie Kruse (Bochum), Tomi Juric (Luzern), Mathew Leckie (Hertha Berlin), Jamie Maclaren (Darmstadt), Nikita Rukavytsya (Maccabi Haifa)