Adam Taggart has been rewarded for his goalscoring form with a spot in Australia’s squad to face Kuwait in their opening World Cup qualifier.
Socceroos head coach Graham Arnold included former Fulham forward Taggart in his 23-man squad as the Suwon Bluewings star tops the K-League scoring charts with 16 goals.
Taggart – who was in the squad for the 2014 World Cup – returned to the international fold during June’s international friendly against Korea Republic.
Uncapped defender Harry Souttar is also in the squad, headlined by Aaron Mooy, Mathew Ryan and Mathew Leckie, for the clash in Kuwait on September 10.
All 23 players in the @Socceroos squad to face Kuwait
— Caltex Socceroos (@Socceroos) August 30, 2019
“I have spent the past month in Europe with one of my Assistants, Rene Meulensteen, watching and speaking with our players and their coaches and we have been delighted with what we have seen and heard,” Arnold said on Friday.
“The players that have been selected in this squad are fit and ready to go, while many, such as Brandon Borrello at Freiburg, Ajdin Hrustic at Groningen, Milos Degenek at Red Star Belgrade, Adam Taggart at Suwon Bluewings, Jackson Irvine at Hull City, and Harry Souttar at Fleetwood Town, have made very positive contributions with their clubs.
“Our June camp and friendly in Busan was a really important time for us. While many of the senior players that had participated in three major tournaments since 2017 were left out to give them a chance to refresh mentally and physically, many young and emerging players were given the chance to enter or re-enter the set-up, which has helped us to develop our depth.”
Arnold added: “I find it exciting for the Socceroos and the nation that there were so many more players in contention for this squad and am expecting healthy competition for places in the starting side for Kuwait and our upcoming qualification matches as we target a winning start on our journey to Qatar.”
The Socceroos are in Group B for the second round of AFC qualifying, alongside Kuwait, Jordan, Chinese Taipei and Nepal.
Australia: Mitch Langerak (Nagoya Grampus), Mathew Ryan (Brighton and Hove Albion), Andrew Redmayne (Sydney FC); Aziz Behic (Istanbul Basaksehir), Milos Degenek (Red Star Belgrade), Rhyan Grant (Sydney FC), Trent Sainsbury (Maccabi Haifa), Brad Smith (Seattle Sounders), Harry Souttar (Fleetwood Town); Mustafa Amini (Aarhus), Ajdin Hrustic (FC Groningen), Jackson Irvine (Hull City), James Jeggo (Austria Vienna), Massimo Luongo (Sheffield Wednesday), Mark Milligan (Southend United), Aaron Mooy (Brighton and Hove Albion); Brandon Borrello (Freiburg), Apostolos Giannou (AEK Larnaca), Craig Goodwin (Al-Wehda), Matthew Leckie (Hertha Berlin), Awer Mabil (Midtjylland), Jamie Maclaren (Melbourne City), Adam Taggart (Suwon Bluewings).