Socceroos coach Graham Arnold
Socceroos coach Graham Arnold

Socceroos Asian Cup squad: Mooy named despite ACL blow

More than a third of Graham Arnold's Socceroos squad for January's Asian Cup will play for their clubs beyond Christmas, as part of a deal struck to win the clubs support for Australia's defence of the trophy.

Some of Arnold's key men, including Mat Ryan, Mark Milligan and Tom Rogic will play for their clubs on Boxing Day before flying immediately to the UAE to join the Australian camp nine days before their opening game.

Arnold unveiled his squad on Thursday with no players officially listed as reserves, though several will unofficially be on standby.

Huddersfield midfielder Aaron Mooy will be among the 23 despite having been ruled out of the tournament by Huddersfield because of ankle ligament damage.

Mooy will be assessed at the weekend by Socceroos physio Phil Coles and an independent doctor and is likely to stay in the Socceroos squad even if he is only available for the latter stages.

Arnold could have summoned his squad from December 24 for the FIFA-sanctioned tournament but has told the players they can have Christmas with their families and play on Boxing Day - if their clubs have a fixture - or else arrive in Dubai on Boxing Day itself.

Clubs will lose their Australian players until the start of February if the Socceroos progress through the tournament, and the move to allow them to play on Boxing Day is designed in part to avoid any of the Australians being effectively penalised when they return to domestic duties after the Asian Cup.

Australia then has one friendly, against Oman on December 30, but Arnold will use that game to give players who have not played for two weeks or more some time on the pitch.

For some players - such as Red Star Belgrade defender Milos Degenek, leftback Alex Gersbach and winger Awer Mabil - their leagues have either gone into a winter break already or finished, and all are likely to feature against Oman to keep their match fitness high - even if some are played out of position.

Arnold seems likely to resist the urge for any great surprises in his squad, having worked with a core group since his first camp last September.

The only bolter is expected to be Perth attacker Chris Ikonomidis after a strong start to the season under Tony Popovic.

There are question marks over the make-up of Arnold's attack, with Tomi Juric having had just three starts and no goals this season for FC Luzerne.

Hibs striker Jamie Maclaren has also struggled for game time but is likely to be included by Arnold for his mobility.

Urawa Reds forward Andrew Nabbout will be included after returning strongly for the Japanese club since having shoulder surgery in the wake of the World Cup.

News Corp Australia


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