McDonald deserves Socceroos chance
A knee injury to Josh Kennedy has opened the door for striker Scott McDonald to rejoin the Socceroos and perhaps finally bag an elusive international goal.
McDonald – a polarising figure among Australia’s football fans and yet to find the back of the net in 25 internationals – was named in a 20-man squad that will tackle Scotland in an Edinburgh friendly on Wednesday.
While Kennedy, Harry Kewell and Tim Cahill will be absent, 28-year-old McDonald will return to the country where he made his name as a star striker for Celtic, banging in goals for fun.
Australian coach Holger Osieck expects Kennedy to return for the side’s next 2014 World Cup qualifier – against Jordan on September 11.
But Osieck says McDonald could still play a role in the Socceroos’ final round of World Cup qualifying.
“If you look at our attacking group, some of the boys are not ready – so I included him (McDonald) again,” Osieck said.
“I’m always following all the boys and I think he’s doing pretty well in pre-season. He’s scoring goals for his club team (Middlesbrough).
“I want to see him help the team and be a serious contender for an attacking spot for the upcoming games.
“When you recall his recent history, he was very unfortunate after a very good performance in Wales.”
McDonald, who was cut from Australia’s 2010 World Cup squad on the eve of the tournament, played one of his best games, under Osieck, last year on August 10.
However, after the 2-1 friendly win over Wales, he was beset by hamstring and knee issues.
McDonald fell behind a long queue of promising attackers, but never became the forgotten man of Australian soccer.
“Nobody’s ever forgotten. I’m still monitoring everybody very closely,” Osieck said.
This is something 33-year-old Archie Thompson, the A-League’s sole representative in the squad, can attest to.
After serving as right-back in the Socceroos’ last-start drawn World Cup qualifiers against Oman (away) and Japan (home), Jade North was omitted due to a calf injury.
Kewell, yet to sign a new club deal after cutting ties with A-League side Melbourne Victory and returning to England, wasn’t considered.
However Lucas Neill, also without a team, will captain the Socceroos for the 50th time.
“He (Neill) has been working with teams and clubs and he’s close to re-signing again with one of the Middle Eastern teams,” Osieck said.
“In his role as captain, he’s very important to me and the team.”
Defenders Jason Davidson and Ryan McGowan were given their first call-ups, while Chris Herd is also in line to make his national debut after withdrawing from two previous squads due to injury.
Osieck wouldn’t promise the untried youngsters time on the pitch, but suggested “there’s a lot of open questions and I think we’ll get the answers in the upcoming camp in Scotland”.© AAP 2013
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