MELBOURNE (Reuters) - New Australia coach Bert Van Marwijk has retained four uncapped players in his maiden 26-man squad for World Cup warmups against Norway and Colombia.
Japan-based winger Andrew Nabbout, Newcastle Jets midfielder Dimitri Petratos, defender Aleksandar Susnjar and goalkeeper Daniel Vukovic will press for international debuts against Norway in Oslo on March 23 and fellow World Cup qualifiers Colombia in London on March 27.
Veteran goalkeeper Brad Jones, midfielder Josh Brillante, and defender James Meredith all return after varying absences to the squad, which retains the core of the side that defeated Honduras in an intercontinental playoff to qualify for Russia.
Long-serving striker Tim Cahill has been retained in the squad released on Wednesday despite very limited playing time with Millwall in England’s second tier.
The 38-year-old, Australia’s most prolific scorer with 50 goals from 104 appearances, remains in a forward set-up featuring Tomi Juric, Robbie Kruse and Mathew Leckie.
“I am looking forward to the chance to get together with the players and work with them for the first time and to get to know them,” Dutchman Van Marwijk, who replaced Ange Postecoglou after the Australian surprisingly quit following the Honduras playoff, said in a statement.
“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.”
Van Marwijk, who coached Netherlands to the 2010 World Cup final, guided Saudi Arabia to World Cup qualification in Russia before joining the Socceroos.
Australia are drawn in Group C with France, Denmark and Peru for the Russia finals.
Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Greg Stutchbury