Graham Arnold has ruled out the Socceroos' biggest star from the Olyroos' Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games squad and outlined other aspects of his selection process.
Arnold is currently consulting his technical director and assistant coaches to finalise the Olyroos squad for the Olympics, with national teams beginning to announce their Tokyo squads.
Arnold missed the last round of Olyroos friendlies after marshalling the Socceroos through their World Cup qualification first round undefeated.
But Arnold has already confirmed that players 24-years-old or under in the national team squad would receive his first preference for the Tokyo team.
That means Conor Metcalfe, Ruon Tongyik, Denis Genreau, Riley McGree, Harry Souttar and Ajdin Hrustic are all seemingly locks for the Olyroos Olympic squad, assuming they're available. Thomas Deng, who's playing regularly for Urawa Reds in Japan, would also be a likely starter.
But Arnold has already said that securing their services from their club teams has proved difficult, acknowledging it's been a 50/50 battle so far.
“I’m having meetings with Trevor Morgan and Gary Van Egmond to look at what’s in front of us but also to have a look at the great quality of players that we will look at bringing to the Olympics. It’s an exciting time for all,” Arnold said.
“Obviously the Socceroos camp was a great experience but I’m really excited for this Olyroos age group.”
In a move that will surprise some however, Arnold has already ruled out taking arguably the Socceroos' biggest star, Brighton goalkeeper Mat Ryan, into the Olympic team.
“There is no way I would want to take an overage player if we are strong in a position,” he continued.
“If we look at the goalkeepers, we have Tommy Glover and young Maynard-Brewer from Charlton over in the UK.
“The reports from what he did over in Marbella have been fantastic so we are not going to look at bringing in a Maty Ryan to take a position where we have strength.
“It’s also about what's next for the Socceroos and those kids are ready to step up so I have the greatest belief and confidence in those goalkeepers.
“I use that as an example for other positions as well. If we have some good young kids in a certain position, we are not going to bring an overage in for the sake of bringing one in."
He also insisted that he would focus on building the Olyroos squad around the team's young stars, like Daniel Arzani, rather than a potential Socceroo like Aaron Mooy who could dictate the team's tempo.
Whether that's a sign that the likes of Mooy or Tom Rogic will miss out on selection remains to be seen.
Mooy may be in doubt for the Olympics regardless due to the tragic death of his brother recently, with the Socceroo absent from Shanghai Port's recent Asian Champions League matches.
However, the Olyroos' three losses in their Marbella friendly series have shown the current roster are slightly lacking in cohesion and attacking prowess, and will likely benefit from an experienced Socceroo in the forward positions.
"We’re not going to build the squad around the three overages, it will be built around the young kids," Arnold insisted.
“I’ve got more meetings coming up with Sporting Directors of overseas clubs so I’ll probably be spending the next week on the phone to get the backing of the clubs overseas and help the kids' careers.
“Some clubs have Champions League qualifiers from the end of June so that makes it difficult for us, but we have a good pool of kids and I’m sure we will have the squad that we expect to have and require.”