March 6, 2018 / 4:50 AM / 3 months ago

Soccer: Uncapped Nabbout named in Van Marwijk's first Australia squad

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Andrew Nabbout’s big week in football took another dizzying turn on Tuesday as the Japan-bound winger was named in Burt van Marwijk’s maiden Australia squad for upcoming World Cup warmups against Norway and Colombia.

The former Newcastle Jets wide man Nabbout, who announced on Monday his transfer to J-League power club Urawa Red Diamonds, is one of four uncapped players in Dutchman Marwijk’s preliminary 29-man squad.

The others are Nabbout’s former Jets team mate and midfielder Dimitri Petratos, Czech Republic-based defender Aleksandar Susnjar and Belgium-based goalkeeper Daniel Vukovic.

The 25-year-old Nabbout was at a career crossroads two years ago after being cut adrift by Malaysia’s Negeri Sembelan but revived his fortunes at the Jets, where he remains their top scorer in the current A-League season.

Apart from the new faces, Van Marwijk, who guided the Netherlands to the 2010 World Cup final in South Africa, has largely kept faith with the Ange Postecoglou-coached squad that won an intercontinental playoff against Honduras to book a fourth successive World Cup appearance.

Twenty-two of the players involved in the playoff last November have been retained, including veteran striker Tim Cahill, who has barely played for Millwall in England’s second tier since returning to his former club in February.

The 38-year-old, Australia’s most prolific striker with 50 goals, has been retained along with regular forwards Tomi Juric, Robbie Kruse and Mathew Leckie.

The squad will be trimmed next week ahead of the March 23 friendly against Norway in Oslo.

“Since my appointment with the Socceroos, my staff, scouts and I have monitored over 100 Australian players in the ... A-League, as well as in leagues across Europe and Asia,” Van Marwijk said in a news release.

“Our upcoming matches against Norway and Colombia will provide a great chance for the players selected to press their claims for Russia, however the door remains ajar for all players not picked for the March window.”

Van Marwijk has tinkered around the fringes of the squad, with Cahill’s Millwall team mate and defender James Meredith recalled after some three years in the international wilderness.

Feyenoord goalkeeper Brad Jones, who has not featured for the Socceroos since a 4-3 capitulation to Ecuador in 2014, was also recalled along with five-cap midfielder Josh Brillante.

Van Marwijk coached Saudi Arabia to World Cup qualification in Russia before crossing to the Socceroos, who were left without a coach after Postecoglou quit following the Honduras playoff.

Australia, drawn in Group C with France, Denmark and Peru at the World Cup in Russia, will play the second friendly against fellow World Cup qualifiers Colombia in London on March 27.

Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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