Bruno Fornaroli has been rewarded for his magnificent start to the A-League Men season with the Uruguayan-born striker named in Graham Arnold’s Socceroos squad for the Asian Cup.
Two-cap international Fornaroli, 36, scored 12 goals in eight games for Melbourne Victory and has ousted Mathew Leckie and Jamie Maclaren to be part of a 26-man squad which was unveiled in Sydney on Friday.
Arnold’s squad also includes three uncapped players – right back Gethin Jones, former Sydney FC midfielder Patrick Yazbek and Germany-based striker John Iredale.
Bolton defender Jones, 28, was born in Perth but grew up in the UK and won youth caps for Wales.
Other surprise selections include Western Sydney Wanderers goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas, who alongside Adelaide No.1 Joe Gauci will act as back-up to Mat Ryan.
Socceroos captain Ryan is currently recovering from a broken cheekbone ahead of Australia’s tournament opener against India on January 13.
The likes of Brandon Borrello, Ryan Strain and Awer Mabil are all unavailable due to injury while Leckie and Maclaren’s fitness concerns led to their omission.
Parma defender Alessandro Circati, Portsmouth midfielder Alex Robertson and wonderkid Garang Kuol have been left out.
That trio are all eligible for the under-23s Olympic qualification campaign in April which played a significant part in Arnold’s thinking for his Asian Cup selection.
“We’ve had to be strategic with some of our selections, considering our Olympic qualification commences in April and have looked to balance the age profile and experience of players across various positions in the squad,” Arnold said.
“I’m excited about the potential within this group and am looking forward to getting into camp in the new year.”
Goalkeepers: Joe Gauci, Mat Ryan (c), Lawrence Thomas.
Defenders: Nathaniel Atkinson, Aziz Behich, Jordy Bos, Cameron Burgess, Thomas Deng, Gethin Jones*, Lewis Miller, Kye Rowles, Harry Souttar.
Midfielders: Keanu Baccus, Jackson Irvine, Riley McGree, Connor Metcalfe, Aiden O’Neill, Patrick Yazbek*.
Forwards: Martin Boyle, Mitchell Duke, Bruno Fornaroli, Craig Goodwin, John Iredale*, Sam Silvera, Marco Tilio, Kusini Yengi.