Star duo Tom Rogic and Aaron Mooy will return for the Socceroos as they embark on the next step of their World Cup qualifying journey next week.
Celtic midfielder Rogic and Chinese-based Mooy have both been named in a 27-man squad by coach Graham Arnold to face China and Vietnam in the opening matches of the third round of qualifying.
It’s the first time since 2019 either player has been in a Socceroos squad, with both missing June’s qualifiers in Kuwait.
Rogic was given time by Arnold to overcome an ankle problem while Mooy was unavailable as he dealt with the death of his brother Alex.
Arnold said having both key players available was a huge plus, especially with Mathew Leckie unavailable due to an unwillingness to do a mandatory 14-day quarantine period upon his return to Australia.
“Aaron’s gone through some tough times and we’ve been there to support him through those times and he’s looking so forward to catching up with his mates back in the in the Socceroos family and enjoying himself again,” Arnold said.
“I expect he’ll be in good shape but freshness and adrenaline will get him through these games.
“Once he puts that shirt back on, once he’s around his mates again, he may not have played for a while but he’s a top class player, he’s a great guy.”
Sydney FC’s Rhyan Grant is the only A-League-based player picked for the matches with striker Jamie Maclaren, winger Chris Ikonomidis and young midfielder Connor Metcalfe among others ruled out due to quarantine concerns.
Goalkeeper Mat Ryan has been picked despite his start to the Spanish La Liga season with Real Sociedad being disrupted due to a knee injury.
While confident Ryan will be fit to play, Arnold has named four goalkeepers in his 27-man squad including uncapped Paul Izzo.
The ex-Adelaide United shotstopper is one of three potential debutants along with fullbacks Callum Elder and Ryan Strain.
Daniel Arzani is also in the squad after his solid Olympic campaign as he pushes for a first Socceroos appearance since 2018.
The squad will assemble over the next two days in Qatar before the clash with China in Doha on Thursday (4am Friday, AEST).
The away trip to face Vietnam in Hanoi takes place on September 7.
SOCCEROOS SQUAD: Daniel Arzani, Aziz Behich, Martin Boyle, Milos Degenek, Kenneth Dougall, Mitch Duke, Callum Elder, Denis Genreau, Rhyan Grant, Ajdin Hrustic, Jackson Irvine, Paul Izzo, James Jeggo, Awer Mabil, Ryan McGowan, Riley McGree, Aaron Mooy, Tom Rogic, Mat Ryan, Trent Sainsbury, Brad Smith, Harry Souttar, Ryan Strain, Adam Taggart, Lawrence Thomas, Danny Vukovic, Bailey Wright.