No spot guaranteed in final squad: Ange

Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou. Picture: BRENDAN ESPOSITO
Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou. Picture: BRENDAN ESPOSITO


Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou has warned no-one's spot is safe, with seven players to be axed from his squad before the World Cup kicks off.

Citing need for "meaningful change", Postecoglou on Wednesday announced a 30-man preliminary World Cup squad long on youth and inexperience, featuring uncapped duo Bailey Wright and Ben Halloran and a further 17 players with less than 10 caps to their names.

Newcastle Jets trio Adam Taggart, Josh Brillante and Mark Birighitti are among 10 A-League players selected in the squad, which has an average age of 22½.

Defence looms as potentially the biggest problem area, with Postecoglou naming an inexperienced group minus overlooked veteran centre-backs Lucas Neill and Sasa Ognenovski plus Trent Sainsbury, who was ruled out by a knee injury.

Luke Wilkshire is the exception, with the caps of the seven other defenders and four goalkeepers combined still shy of his 79.

But Postecoglou said he had no intention of selecting any veterans in defence just "to make everyone happy".

"I had some pretty clear criteria - form and fitness and an eye to the future and this squad reflects that," he said.

With 22 of the 30 players having never been to a World Cup before, Postecoglou admits it's a green group but, tasked with rebuilding the side, the coach said there was no other way.

"We needed to change the direction of our national team," he said.

"This wasn't going to be an adjustment; this was a meaningful change and we needed to regenerate the team," he said.

"There was no doubt in my mind that we needed to make some meaningful change in the players we selected and, at the same time, understand that it's a World Cup."

Postecoglou will cut three players the day after Australia's friendly against South Africa in Sydney on May 26, with four more to go when the final 23-man squad is named in Brazil on June 2.

Before then, however, the 30-man squad will gather for a 10-day camp from Thursday.

And Postecoglou said every player still needs to prove themselves.

"I have been really impressed with some of the younger players, particularly the likes of Brillante and Taggart in the A-League, Ben Halloran has really come on in the last bit in Germany," he said.

"The way Curtis Good handled that step up in the Ecuador game gave me even more confidence that our young players, given the opportunity, will take it.

"It is still a battle to get on the 23.

"How they perform within this context of this camp will obviously be an indicator." - AAP


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