Australia springs three surprises in World Cup squad for Russia

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CANBERRA, May 7 (Xinhua) -- Australia has made some unexpected selections on Monday in its 2018 preliminary World Cup squad, with winger Daniel Arzani and veteran Tim Cahill among the 32 players named by coach Bert van Marwijk.

Despite starring for Australia at previous World Cups, Cahill - at the age of 38 - was in some doubt to be named. He has also been exposed to a lack of first team football with his club side in England.

The veteran striker has only managed 10 appearances for Millwall in the English Championship since joining earlier this year, with most of them coming from the bench.

But van Marwijk described Cahill as a "special case" and said he was backing him to become the first Australian to appear and score at four consecutive World Cups.

"He (Cahill) doesn't play much; maybe 5 or 10 or 20 minutes. He is special in everything. He is 38 and maybe one of the best ever players for Australia. He is a very good striker," van Marwijk told reporters on Monday.

"He is not 19 like Arzani, he's twice as old, but is also a player who can make a difference. He will not be nervous if we play in front of 60,000 people."

At the other end of the age spectrum is 19-year-old bolter Arzani, named the Australian professional league's Young Player of the Year in 2018, who is untried at international level.

The former Australian youth international was also eligible to represent Iran. However the Socceroos coach was quick to shut down any chance of losing such a talented young player.

"Maybe a world championship is too early for him, but I will not hesitate to nominate him if I think that he can mean something for us, and can make a difference maybe in the last 10 or 15 minutes," van Marwijk said. "So I am happy he is in the squad.

"He is young and must learn a lot but he is a player who can make a difference. I like players who make a difference."

Another surprise inclusion was uncapped Croatian-born defender Fran Karacic, who may fill the right-back position for Australia.

The Socceroos' provisional squad will be cut down further next week. Then the final 23-man squad that will travel to Russia is set to be announced in late May following an intensive training camp in Turkey.

Australia's 32-man preliminary squad:

Goalkeepers: Mat Ryan (Brighton and Hove Albion FC, England), Danny Vukovic (KRC Genk, Belgium), Brad Jones (Feyenoord, Netherlands), Mitch Langerak (Nagoya Grampus, Japan)

Defenders: Aziz Behich (Bursaspor, Turkey), Milos Degenek (Yokohama F. Marinos, Japan), Matthew Jurman (Suwon Bluewings, South Korea), James Meredith (Millwall, England), Josh Risdon (Western Sydney, Australia), Trent Sainsbury (Grasshoppers Zurich, Switzerland), Aleksandar Susnjar (FK Mlada Boleslav, Czech Republic), Bailey Wright (Bristol City, England), Alex Gersbach (Lens, France), Fran Karacic (Lokomotiva Zagreb, Croatia)

Midfielders: Josh Brillante (Sydney FC, Australia), Mile Jedinak (Aston Villa, England), Mark Milligan (Al Ahli, Saudi Arabia), Robbie Kruse (Bochum, Germany), Jackson Irvine (Hull, England), Massimo Luongo (Queens Park Rangers, England), Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield, England), Tom Rogic (Celtic, Scotland), James Troisi (Melbourne Victory, Australia).

Forwards: Tim Cahill (Millwall, England), Tomi Juric (FC Luzern, Switzerland), Mathew Leckie (Hertha Berlin, Germany), Andrew Nabbout (Urawa Red Diamonds, Japan), Nikita Rukavytsya (Maccabi Haifa, Israel), Dimitri Petratos (Newcastle Jets, Australia), Jamie Maclaren (Hibernian, Scotland), Daniel Arzani (Melbourne City, Australia), Apostolos Giannou (AEK Larnaca, Cyprus).