Hrustic is one of six uncapped players, including recalled Riley McGree, to be named in coach Ange Postecoglou’s extended 30-man squad today, after Australia successfully lured the Melbourne-born 20-year-old attacker amid reported overtures from Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Uncapped former Adelaide United defender Dylan McGowan, who’s just signed with Portuguese top-tier side Pacos Ferreira, joins his older, China-based, brother Ryan as the Socceroos’ first set of siblings since 2008.
Ryan will be locked in a right-back battle with Milos Degenek and retained Sydney FC speedster Rhyan Grant in a squad that will be reduced to 23 for the June 8 World Cup qualifier at Adelaide Oval and June 13 friendly with world No.1 Brazil at the MCG, before flying to Russia for the Confederations Cup.
Intriguingly, Postecoglou has opted for four goalkeepers, adding Swansea City’s Mark Birighitti to his last-picked trio of incumbent No.1 Mat Ryan, newly-promoted Bundesliga gloveman Mitch Langerak and Sydney FC’s A-League custodian of the year Danny Vukovic.
Yet Brad Jones was overlooked despite helping Feyenoord to the Dutch title as the Eredivisie’s top-performing goalkeeper.
As expected, departing joint A-League Golden Boot striker Jamie Maclaren has been recalled two months after his surprise exclusion from March’s qualifying double-header.
The new German SV Darmstadt signing joins Tomi Juric and Tim Cahill as options to lead the line in Postecoglou’s new-look 3-2-4-1 formation.
In a major boost, playmaking wizard Tom Rogic returns hours after his Celtic finished the Scottish Premier League unbeaten, while Jackson Irvine is back thanks to his sterling form to keep Burton Albion in the Championship.
However there was no good news for central defensive stalwart Matt Spiranovic, who is back playing for Chinese second-division side Hangzhou Greentown but was seemingly deemed not fit enough following the quad injury that sidelined him for the March double-header.
Australia sit third in qualifying for Russia 2018, three points behind the top-two automatic qualifying spots currently held by Japan and Saudi Arabia.
It essentially renders the home clash with the Saudis a must-win if the Socceroos are to avoid being thrown into a play-offs dogfight.
“Initially our energy and focus will be solely on the World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia in Adelaide,” Postecoglou said.
“It is the most important game we will play over the June period.
“The group is tight at the moment and Saudi Arabia will be a tough opponent but we have always been strong on home soil, and I see no reason why that won’t continue in front of our fans at Adelaide Oval.”
Socceroos: Mustafa Amini, Aziz Behich, Mark Birighitti, Tim Cahill, Milos Degenek, Alex Gersbach, Craig Goodwin, Rhyan Grant, Ajdin Hrustic, Jackson Irvine, Mile Jedinak, James Jeggo, Tomi Juric, Robbie Kruse, Mitch Langerak, Mathew Leckie, Massimo Luongo, Jamie Maclaren, Dylan McGowan, Ryan McGowan, Riley McGree, Mark Milligan, Aaron Mooy, Tom Rogic, Mathew Ryan, Trent Sainsbury, Brad Smith, James Troisi, Danny Vukovic, Bailey Wright.
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