Socceroos Squad Tiers: How is the team shaping up ahead of the World Cup qualifiers?

Who will representing Australia in the fourth round of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers? (Photo: Socceroos)

After an emotional campaign with the Olyroos in Tokyo, head coach Graham Arnold won’t have much time to spend thinking about what could’ve been.

The ex-striker will have just over a month to reload his batteries before the Australian men’s national football team, the Socceroos, is back in action.

Australia was drawn in Group B for the third phase of qualifying along with Japan, Vietnam, Oman, China, and Saudi Arabia. The top two teams will qualify for Qatar 2022 and the third-placed nation will advance to a play-off match.

Coming into August, we should have a good idea of what the roster for these games will look like. Given that this is the third and final phase of the qualifiers, seeing new faces in the team is highly unlikely, but there could be some exceptions due to injuries.

The Inner Sanctum breaks down Australia’s national team squad into four distinct tiers: certain starters, players who will definitely be called up, squad players who will likely play some kind of a role, and finally the outside contenders who could surprisingly come in.

One player that we won’t include in any of these tiers is Matt Ryan, who’s expected to miss the upcoming season after injuring his knee.

Let’s take a look.

Tier 1- Certain Starters

Aaron Mooy – Shanghai Port

Jackson Irvine – FC St. Pauli

Jamie Maclaren – Melbourne City

Harry Souttar – Stoke City

Ajdin Hrustic – Eintracht Frankfurt

Danny Vukovic – NEC Nijmegen

Mathew Leckie – Melbourne City

These are the players that look most likely to be consistent starters and leaders for the Socceroos once round three begins.

Irvine, Maclaren, Souttar, Hrustic, Vukovic, and Leckie impressed in June’s matches, and Mooy is arguably the best outfield player in the whole country. All seven have good European pedigrees and experience in some of the biggest leagues in the world.

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Tier 2 – In the Squad

Tom Rogic – Celtic FC

Andrew Redmayne – Sydney FC

Milos Degenek – Crvena Zvezda

Trent Sainsbury – KV Kortrijk

Aziz Behich – Istanbul Basaksehir

Rhyan Grant – Sydney FC

Riley McGree – Birmingham City

Kenneth Dougall – Blackpool

Martin Boyle – Hibernian

Fran Karacic – Brescia

These players have all done enough to prove that they deserve to be called up for the crucial qualifiers in September.

Tom Rogic should be in this time, after recovering from an injury. Redmayne is expected to be the number two behind Vukovic, now that Ryan is injured. One of Degenek and Sainsbury will most likely partner Souttar in the heart of the defence, flanked by Behich on the left and Grant or Karacic on the right.

Dougall and Boyle are two options that Arnold trusts and will use, while McGree has definitely earned his place after impressing with the Olyroos during their time in Tokyo.

Tier 3 – In the Conversation

Adam Federici – Macarthur FC

Lawrence Thomas – SønderjyskE

Brad Smith – Seattle Sounders FC

Curtis Good – Melbourne City

Ryan McGowan – Kuwait SC

Ruon Tongyik – Central Coast Mariners

Massimo Luongo – Sheffield Wednesday

James Jeggo – Aris Thessaloniki

James Holland – LASK

Denis Genreau – Toulouse

Connor Metcalfe – Melbourne City

Nikita Rukavytsya – Free agent

Christopher Ikonomidis – Melbourne Victory

Awer Mabil – FC Midtjylland

Mitchell Duke – Fagiano Okayama

Brandon Borello – Dynamo Dresden

All these players seem to have a decent chance of making Arnold’s squad for the games in September after recently impressing for club or country.

Federici and Thomas will likely be Redmayne’s competition for the goalkeeper spot on the bench. Smith, Good, McGowan, and Tongyik will be fighting to earn more caps after they were all named in the most recent Socceroos squad.

Luongo and Jeggo will be hoping for a return to the national team after missing the last couple of games due to injuries, and James Holland is another player who gives Arnold options in the middle of the park.

Genreau and Metcalfe are two interesting midfield options that could force their way into the roster following some very good outings for the Olyroos in Tokyo. Both of them shined in the historical win over Argentina and held their own versus a Spain side full of stars.

Rukavytsya, Ikonomidis, Mabil, Duke, and Borello are the attackers expected to cover for the likes of Maclaren, Boyle, and Leckie.

Tier 4 – Depth Options

Apostolos Giannou – OFI Crete

Adam Taggart – Cerezo Osaka

Bailey Wright – Sunderland

Mustafa Amini – Apollon Limassol

Andrew Nabbout – Melbourne City

Daniel Arzani – Manchester City

Nathaniel Atkinson – Melbourne City

Joel King – Sydney FC

Marco Tilio – Melbourne City

Thomas Deng – Urawa Red Diamonds

Here are a couple of outside contenders who haven’t had much success with the national team recently or haven’t been called up before but could surprisingly come in. Giannou and Taggart were in for the qualifiers in June, but both had their problems and didn’t actually play much of a role.

Nabbout was also expected to take part in the last camp, but missed out due to an adductor tear. Wright and Amini on the other hand haven’t been capped since 2019, and will be trying to force their way into the coach’s thinking.

And last but not least, Arzani, Atkinson, King, Tilio, and Deng will be hoping to have done enough in Tokyo in order to make a senior appearance. All have the talent but will be face serious competition for the final slots.

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1 Comment

  1. I think Atkinson, Tilio, Arzani, should be moved a tier. Also think Graham should get the players to shoot more from the 25, don’t need take it into the 5 all the time. Look at goals scored around the world, a lot more shots than our style. Just my opinion.

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