Much has been made of the burly centreback's family-splitting decision to ditch Scotland for Australia: his brother John is a three-cap Scottish international.

But we love a good defector Down Under (especially a Scot, Souttar makes 19 and counting) so don him in green and gold, teach him where Canberra is and make excuses for his accent, we've got a new Socceroo.

And what a Socceroo...all 198 centimetres of Souttar are gut-busting old-fashioned defensive triumphs. 

He's a Stoke City lad, brought in during the wake of the good ol' Tony Pulis hit-it-and-hope years before Mark Hughes got all continental (and got the sack).

He came through the Celtic and Dundee United youth systems and, while he's yet to make an appearance for the Potters, can boast two successful loan spells heading into the Socceroos camp.

He's also a Scottish U17 and U19 and an Australian U23 international (where he faced South Korea) so he's experienced in a national team setup.

Hauling around an even more intimidating constitution than Thomas Deng, which is sure to overshadow a few equally young South Koreans, he's set to be another weapon in the penalty area. 

He's also coming off a year in the famously combative League One on loan at Fleetwood Town. With huge potential at just 20 years old, here's hoping Souttar is a Socceroos success.

Where would he fit into the Socceroos?

Where Souttar fits into Arnie's long term plans leading into 2022 will depend largely on the attributes the Socceroos want to take into the Asian qualifiers.

It's clear that Australia may have to compromise their ideals somewhat if they wish to compete with quickly-developing Asian powers. The days of playing someone like Mark Milligan in the backline could be behind us.

Souttar isn't a ball-playing defender, but that doesn't mean he isn't skilled. In 2022 he'll be 24 and alongside the likes of Bailey Wright, Milos Degenek and maybe Thomas Deng, Australia will have a taller, more combative defensive line to rely on.

Hopefully Arnold's insistence that the Korea match is all about the result means we see a little bit of take-no-prisoners action. With all these big lumps in the squad we're all getting a tad nostalgic. 


Leaving behind the big fellas for a crack at a 173-centimetre flashy winger from Subiaco, Ryan Williams is set to follow his brother's footsteps (literally, Rhys is back in the Socceroos squad as well) to make his national team debut.

While all three of the Williams clan have shone at moments and disappointed at others, Ryan has now taken the mantle of most-exciting.

Still only 25 (even though it feels like he's been around forever), the wide midfielder came through the English youth system like his brothers and made his first professional appearances for Portsmouth before moving to London to join Fulham. 

It was here he entered the Australian fold after a shaky start his relationship with FFA, making 12 appearances in just over a year for the U20s. But he couldn't break into Fulham, nor Gillingham, nor earn a cemented starter role at Barnsley and suddenly the lofty potential seemed to slip a little.

But as is the case with most Aussies in the UK, you're only ever one good transfer away from breaking into the Socceroos squad and Rotherham United proved that opportunity.

He became a favourite for the now-relegated Championship squad, leading them to promotion from League One and making over 80 appearances across the two competitions, becoming a mainstay of the squad throughout their most successful part of the season before slipping out again as the club fell apart.

Where would he fit into the Socceroos?

With huge competition from the younger yet more established likes of Awer Mabil and Chris Ikonomidis, Williams fits into second tier of Socceroos hopefuls.

He's not as electric and explosively dynamic as some of the other Australian options in his position, however his main advantage at this stage stems from his foreign experience.

He now has several years battling it out in the do-or-die English divisions under his belt and a solid build, with very injuries throughout his career. 

He's done the hard yards, he's got the experience and while he's not a goalscorer, he has pace and trickery to burn. He also still has strong potential and, best of all, he's an unknown quantity among the current Socceroos crop.


Expect a new-look Brandon Borrello to take to the field for the Socceroos (if you can remember what he looked like) with his German endurance finally set to pay off.

Borrello left Brisbane Roar after an electric three seasons where he set the A-League and those pyrotechnics behind the Suncorp goals firmly alight. But he's coming back to the Aussie spotlight a world-weary hirsute 23-year-old channelling Mile Jedinak.

He almost made the 2018 World Cup squad after becoming a warm favourite for a late-inclusion due to his inspired form in the 2.Bundesliga for now-relegated FC Kaiserslautern.

Early last year Thomas Broich said Borello had reached another level since moving to Germany from Brisbane Roar.

“He’s got something to offer — he’s a very courageous young player, he’s full of energy, he’s got assists in him, he’s got goals in him and he can always give you a boost when you need it.”

Where would he fit into the Socceroos?

Another Socceroos virgin, the youngster has made plenty of international appearances at U20 and U23 level. Much like Williams, Borrello offers depth in the wide midfield Socceroos positions, as one of a growing contingent of youngsters seeking to usurp the likes of Nikita Rukavystya and Robbie Kruse.

He's a pacey winger, keen to take on defenders and slip in dangerous crosses - with a great assist record - the Aussie finished the previous 2.Bundesliga season with three goals and seven assists in 19 matches, earning a move to Bundesliga club SC Freiburg.

All of this means he clearly has huge potential, however this season has been far more disappointing, making his inclusion one of the more shocking in the current squad. An ACL injury kept him out of the first five months and he failed to make an appearance after that for the rest of the season.

Still, he's on the up-and-up, performing strongly for the Freiburg reserves and clearly looking to show his true worth by dazzling a few Koreans, should he get the chance. 


After two A-League Premierships, two Championships and an FFA Cup, if Brandon O'Neill's an unfamiliar face you're probably a lost cause.

The hardy Irish-heritage defensive midfielder has attracted lots of interest from foreign clubs and even registered on the radar of the Irish national team, so while it's no surprise to see him earn a call-up under the coach that revolutionised his game, there may also be a smidgen of CAP HIM before the Irish do.

He's had another fantastic season at the heart of Sydney's midfield, proving an extremely energetic, hard-working and hard-tackling midfield general in an already exceptionally talented squad.

If it wasn't for the Socceroos' wealth of options in midfield, he would have clearly already garnered a few appearances for the national team with relatively few obvious weaknesses to O'Neill's game.

Under Steve Corica's more direct style, he's added a slightly more varied passing range to his repertoire. He's also made two appearances for the Australian U23 squad.

Where would he fit into the Socceroos?

At national team level, particularly in contrast to the likes of Massimo Luongo and Jackson Irvine who he would be competing with directly, his lack of physicality, pace and trickery on the ball could be an obstacle.

While he's slightly too defensively oriented to be a natural deep-lying playmaker, as part of a midfield pivot he could play the Mark Milligan number six role, alongside an Aaron Mooy, Irvine or Luongo.

Whether his growing list of complementary attributes: a powerful, accurate strike from long-range and fantastic set-piece ability are enough to overcome these weaknesses remains to be seen, but it will be an interesting progression to watch, especially if an overseas move is forthcoming.


While A-League fans will be very familiar with the gentle giant in the Melbourne Victory backline, Deng's solitary cap at national team level (he made his debut under Arnold against Kuwait) makes him a surprise package at this level.

He's had a mixed season at club level due to Victory's inconsistent defensive tactical approach, with Deng shifted across most of the backline positions and forced to play in both three, four and five at the back setups. 

But whether it was in a rightback role or central, Deng still managed to put in some impressive displays, excelling at times when the rest of a makeshift and often unpredictable Victory backline were faltering.

Particularly effective at the beginning of the season before things went a little haywire for the Big V, Deng's physicality, presence and growing tactical acumen - he's played under some top notch coaches throughout A-League, Eerste Divisie and international spells - hold him in good stead among the Socceroos staff.

After all, he's been a regular for the Australian U20 and U23 teams since 2015. 

Where would he fit into the Socceroos?

He'll be most effective against the Koreans due to his height from set-pieces; not the only choice in this list clearly banking on a towering advantage. He's also capable on the ball, perhaps even a little over-zealous at times.

But where he might fall down is the few errors that still exist in the 22-year-old's game - he's privy to a few tumbles in crucial positions, errant backpasses and slips against technical attackers.

Expect Deng to be a continued presence under Arnold moving forward - at least in a squad role - with the Socceroos lack of overt depth in the centreback stocks evident in the selection, however justified, of a 30-year-old Matt Spiranovic.

The chances that Arnold's back likely choices for the match against Korea: Spira, Matt Jurman and Rhys Williams will be there in 2022 are slim at best.