MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia coach Ange Postecoglou has recalled forward Robbie Kruse and named uncapped striker Apostolos Giannou in his 23-man squad for this month’s World Cup qualifiers against Tajikistan and Jordan.
Germany-based Kruse returns after a wretched run of injuries while Giannou, who played for Greece in a friendly match last year but represented Australia at junior level, has been named in the national squad for the first time.
The pair will bolster Australia’s attacking options as Postecoglou looks to unearth a successor to long-serving forward Tim Cahill.
Postecoglou has also recalled defender Matthew Spiranovic and goalkeeper Mitch Langerak for the March 24 qualifier against Tajikistan in Adelaide and the Jordan match in Sydney on March 29.
Australia are top of Group B in Asian qualifying, two points above Jordan.
“Both games are important,” Postecoglou told reporters in Melbourne on Wednesday.
“We’ve got a big couple of years ahead, this year’s going to be very important for us to build some momentum.”
Postecoglou, who is of Greek heritage, coached Giannou in Australia’s under-17 squad and said he had flown to Greece to chat to the China-based forward about playing for Australia.
“He’s a guy I’ve known for a very long time,” he said.
“He’s a great story, he was born in Greece and came to Australia, his parents were hoping for a better life ...”
Postecoglou has also drafted in a pair of uncapped defenders in Melbourne Victory’s Jason Geria and Norway-based Alex Gersbach and left out several senior internationals including Alex Wilkinson and Ivan Franjic.
“(They‘re) playing fullback positions where I still think we need to have some more depth,” he said of Geria and Gersbach.
”It’s the perfect time to give them a chance I think. They’ve certainly shown some great potential.
“We’ve left out some very, very good players,” he added.
“This is the reason I brought in some new faces in this squad, to keep everyone on their toes.”
Squad: Terry Antonis, Nathan Burns, Tim Cahill, Adam Federici, Jason Geria, Alex Gersbach, Apostolos Giannou, Chris Ikonomidis, Mile Jedinak, Robbie Kruse, Mitchell Langerak, Mathew Leckie, Massimo Luongo, Ryan McGowan, Mark Milligan, Aaron Mooy, Josh Risdon, Tommy Rogic, Mathew Ryan, Trent Sainsbury, Brad Smith, Matthew Spiranovic, Bailey Wright.
Editing by Peter Rutherford