Socceroos to unleash generation next
GENERATION next will feature prominently as the Socceroos kick off the road to Qatar 2022 in a fortnight.
European-based trio Brandon Borrello, Ajdin Hrustic and Awer Mabil are expected to headline the youthful squad, which will be named on Friday.
England-based defender Harry Soutter could also be among the fresh-faced new batch, whose first hurdle is a tough away trip to sizzling Kuwait on September 10.
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South Korean league golden boot leader Adam Taggart is favoured to lead the attack, having recently returned to the squad after a five-year hiatus.
Socceroos coach Graham Arnold has yet to articulate his selection mantra, but it is understood that he will lean towards overseas-based players for the opener against Kuwait, as most are in-season.
That leaves Melbourne Victory duo Robbie Kruse and Andrew Nabbout, who were part of the Socceroos' front four at the 2018 World Cup, in doubt.
Borrello, Hrustic and Mabil - who along with Taggart have merely played a combined 20 internationals - would consequently all be in contention to start against Kuwait.
All have scored for their clubs in recent weeks bar Borrello, although he's started all three competitive games for Bundesliga club Freiburg and featured in the number 10 (attacking midfield) role last week.
Borrello, who usually plays on a wing, made his Socceroos debut last June after recovering from a knee reconstruction.
The former Brisbane Roar player is just one of just four Socceroos featuring in the 'Big Five' leagues - Mathew Leckie (Hertha Berlin) and Brighton duo Aaron Mooy and Mat Ryan are the others, with Mooy making his starting debut in the Seagull's 2-1 League Cup win over third tier Bristol Rovers.
Celtic duo Tom Rogic and Daniel Arzani may be the overseas exceptions, with both yet to feature for their club this season.
With Bristol City's Bailey Wright injured and Matthew Spiranovic still without a club - both of whom played in Australia's last friendly against South Korea last June - uncapped Souttar has propelled into selection contention.
Souttar - who was also part of the squad for the South Korea clash - has started all six league and cup games (and scored once) with English League One club Fleetwood Town, featuring in the same division as Socceroos skipper Mark Milligan and fringe player Ryan Williams, who's still recovering from injury.
Starting defender Milos Degenek has helped Red Star Belgrade qualify for the UEFA Champions League, advancing 3-3 on aggregate after a 1-1 draw with Switzerland's Young Boys.
Degenek scored in the team's crucial 2-2 first leg away draw.