‘It’s a great headache to have’ – Arnold lauds midfield options for Socceroos

Ajnin Hrustic for Australia. Photo: Socceroos - Twitter

Graham Arnold has named 25 players in his squad stacked with high-calibre midfield options to continue Australia’s undefeated World Cup qualification run.  

Tom Rogic, Aaron Mooy, Jackson Irvine, Ajdin Hrustic, Denis Genreau, and Riley McGree make up the assortment of talent at Arnold’s disposal.

“All of them are in great condition and in great spirits,” said the Socceroo manager.

“They’re all dying to start which is fantastic… it’s a great headache to have that quality.”

The strength of the Socceroos midfield is not just in the individual quality of the players. Each of them is capable of playing various roles and systems. Most are starters or regular contributors for their clubs.

In the last round of qualifying, Hrustic was deployed in an attacking role, his dribbling caused problems and his ball use was at times deadly.

In the Bundesliga at Eintracht Frankfurt, he is often used in a deeper position. His passing range and game sense are utilized in Germany to dictate the flow of a match.

Irvine, Mooy, and Genreau can also be used in various formations and tactics in the centre of the park. Graham Arnold spoke glowingly of his player’s versatility.

“The benefit of that is they’re very flexible in their positions,” he said to the media.

“They can play different roles. Jackson Irvine against Vietnam, he played as a ‘double six’.

“Then I moved him for the last 15-20 minutes high on the left like a ‘double 10,’ all those players do have flexibility which is great.”

The manager was similarly effusive about Hrustic.  The playmaker has allowed Arnold to alter tactics without necessarily making substitutions in qualifying.

“Even against Vietnam, I used him from a ‘double 6’ to a right-winger coming inside.”

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Following impressive A-League Men’s performances and a strong showing at the Tokyo Olympics, Denis Genreau earned a move to France.

The Toulouse midfielder appears transformed since he began in Europe according to Arnold.

“He already looked a different player, physical a different player as well.

“He feels already himself that he’s twice as fit as he was when he was in Australia. With the match minutes and playing against the quality that he is his game is getting better and better every week.

Genreau made his reputation as a deep-lying player, for the Olyroo’s he occupied an almost defensive position in Toyko In Ligue 2 he has moved further afield and played behind the strikers.

Arnold describes him as a player who can contribute in a variety of ways.

“He’s a creative player, he can control the game as a ‘double 6’ but he’s got that extra ability in him that he can create as well. It’s a great attribute to have.

“He’s in great shape…he wants to be here.”

Australia does not run as deep in other positions. Arnold singled out the sacrifices that made Chris Ikonomides and Rhyan Grant available to the team.

The pair are the only two A-League Men’s based players in the squad.

Sydney FC defender Grant has been in Europe, training in Scotland with Hibernian to remain available to the national team.

Ikonomidis has chosen to brave quarantine to link up with the Socceroos.

“We’re very grateful to Melbourne Victory and Tony Popovic.” He said of the attacker.

“We’re quite short in that position at the moment with other players not being able to come.

“He’s in great shape, he’s been working hard at Melbourne Victory. He wants to be here, he wants to come to this camp.” 

The Socceroo’s are currently on a run of 10 games undefeated. Currently, the record for an Australian coach in World Cup qualifying is 14.

It would be an amazing achievement for Arnold to break that record. But with Oman awaiting them and only tougher tests to follow is this something he is thinking about?

“Maybe one day when I look back on things when I’m well and truly gone,” he says.

“Today I don’t look at it. The most important thing is three points against Oman.”

Australia play Oman on Friday, October 8 at 5:30 am AEST

Socceroos squad: Daniel Arzani, Aziz Behich, Martin Boyle, Milos Degenek, Kenneth Dougall, Mitchell Duke, Callum Elder, Denis Genreau, Rhyan Grant, Ajdin Hrustic, Chris Ikonomidis, Jackson Irvine, James Jeggo, Fran Karacic, Awer Mabil, Ryan McGowan, Riley McGree, Aaron Mooy, Tom Rogic, Mathew Ryan, Trent Sainsbury, Harry Souttar, Adam Taggart, Lawrence Thomas, Danny Vukovic.

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