Socceroos coach Graham Arnold is taking a huge gamble with several new faces to be included in Australia's squad for this month's crucial World Cup qualifiers.
Socceroos coach Graham Arnold is poised to roll the selection dice for this month's make or break World Cup qualifiers against Japan and Saudi Arabia.
Australia's next international window
- Australia play Japan and Saudi Arabia in the next international window.
- The matches are must wins for automatic qualification to this year's World Cup.
- Graham Arnold is expected to announce his team selection on Thursday.
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Injuries, potential suspensions and a desire to bring a harder edge to his team means there will be several new faces in the extended squad Arnold names on Thursday for Australia's final matches in the third stage of qualifying.
Perth's veteran forward Bruno Fornaroli's maiden call-up was confirmed on Tuesday by Glory coach Richard Garcia while Melbourne Victory striker Nicholas D'Agostino is also expected to be named as Arnold explores his attacking options, with Adam Taggart unavailable due to injury.
Doubts remain over Melbourne City star Mathew Leckie, who hasn't featured for the A-League Men leaders since suffering a groin injury in a draw against the Glory earlier this month.
Fellow attacker Awer Mabil, who was overlooked for the previous Socceroos squad, is a chance for an instant recall after finding form in recent weeks since his loan move to Turkey -- including a wonder goal in a 3-1 win for Kasimpasa last weekend.
Scottish-based midfielder Cameron Devlin is injured, with former Central Coast player Gianni Stensness an option as Arnold seeks to stiffen up his midfield after defensive lapses in the 2-2 draw with Oman in Muscat last time out.
That result has Australia third in the group on 15 points and needing to beat second-placed Japan (18 points) in Sydney on March 24 before travelling to Jeddah to face group leaders Saudi Arabia (19 points) in their final match of the stage.
Failure to win both games will almost certainly send the Socceroos into a treacherous play-off route to Qatar 2022 and Arnold said it's time for his side to show the desire to do all they can to qualify automatically for the World Cup.
"We've built a great environment within the squad of brotherhood," Arnold told SEN's The Global Game.
"Maybe it's time the older brothers stepped up and showed the younger brothers what to do?
"On the other side of it, the way I manage in the father figure way of being there to support, it's time also that dad told them what to do.
"At the end of the day, they're all good players, they're all good people, maybe a bit of nasty side needs to come out."
Adding to Arnold's concerns, Leckie is one of six players who are one yellow card away from a one-game suspension including fullbacks Fran Karacic, Rhyan Grant and Aziz Behich and midfielder Jackson Irvine.
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