Goalkeeper Brad Jones has returned from four years in the international wilderness as Bert van Marwijk finalised his first squad as Socceroos coach. Van Marwijk has picked Jones ahead of fellow goalkeeper Mitch Langerak in a 26-man squad for friendlies against Norway and Colombia later this month.
Stalwart Tim Cahill has been included despite limited game-time for Millwall while Czech Republic-based defender Aleksandar Šušnjar has also survived van Marwijk’s first cut. The newly-appointed Dutch manager dropped Langerak, striker Jamie Maclaren and Alex Gersbach from the initial list of 29 named last week.
The trimmed squad, announced on Wednesday, features four uncapped players – Susnjar, Andrew Nabbout, Dimitri Petratos and Daniel Vukovic. Petratos is among a quartet of A-League players in the squad, along with Josh Brillante, James Troisi and Josh Risdon.
Van Marwijk summoned Feyenoord custodian Jones at the expense of Langerak. The 35-year-old Jones last played for Australia four years ago before being on the selection outer under former coach Ange Postecoglou.
Jones will press his claims to be the understudy for first-choice goalkeeper Mat Ryan at the World Cup in Russia in June. He returns to the fray for two friendlies, against Norway in Oslo on 24 March (Australian time) and against Colombia in London four days later.
Van Marwijk said the squad was selected after an intensive scouting period since he was named Socceroos coach for the World Cup.
“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,” Van Marwijk said. “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 will coach Australia at the World Cup from mid-June with Graham Arnold to take over on a permanent basis after the showpiece tournament.
Socceroos squad: Aziz Behich, Joshua Brillante, Tim Cahill, Milos Degenek, Jackson Irvine, Mile Jedinak, Brad Jones, Tomi Juric, Matthew Jurman, Robbie Kruse, Mathew Leckie, Massimo Luongo, James Meredith, Mark Milligan, Aaron Mooy, Andrew Nabbout, Dimitri Petratos, Josh Risdon, Tom Rogic, Nikita Rukavytsya, Mat Ryan, Trent Sainsbury, Aleksandar Susnjar, James Troisi, Daniel Vukovic, Bailey Wright.