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Australia's 2018 World Cup squad predicted: Who will make Socceroos' 23-man squad?

03:32 GMT+4 28/05/2018
Socceroos split
Australians young and old will be vying for a plane ticket to Russia

The Socceroos will make their fourth straight appearance at a World Cup in Russia with a number of new faces and old heads pushing for selection. 

New coach Bert van Marwijk will only be in charge of Australia for the tournament and is expected to pick solely based on current form with past exploits and future potential unlikely to sway the Dutchman.

As a result, a number of places are up for grabs and expect a few surprises when an extended squad announced on May 7 is cut to 23 names by June 4.

But before then, Goal casts an eye over which players are certain of a spot, those that are on the edge and who are on the fringes.  


ON THE PLANE


Though his spot in goals could well be up for grabs, Mat Ryan is certain to be included in the Socceroos squad for Russia. The Brighton and Hove Albion keeper has impressed during his first season in the Premier League and has been a reliable shot stopper for Australia over the years. Brad Jones and Danny Vukovic will also be heading to Russia, desperate to dethrone Ryan from between the sticks.

Having been included in the Socceroos' March camp despite being injured, Trent Sainsbury and Matt Jurman are clearly key to van Marwijk’s plans and having overcome respective fitness concerns can all but book their tickets to Russia.

Aziz Behich and Milos Degenek also appear to be certain defensive options for van Marwijk after being heavily involved against Colombia and Norway.

Skipper Mile Jedinak will also be on the plane, but could play in defence or midfield having featured at the back this season for Aston Villa in the Championship.

Australia’s greatest strength right now is in its midfield with Aaron Mooy, Jackson Irvine, Massimo Luongo and Tom Rogic all certain to be picked - but they will have to compete for just two spots in the middle of the park.

Up front Tomi Juric has become the Socceroos go-to striker despite a lack of goals and will be given another chance in Russia should he overcome a knee injury. 

Along the flanks Matthew Leckie and Nikita Rukavytsya bring plenty of speed to the Australian side and will be hard to ignore after strong seasons with their European clubs.


POTENTIAL PICKS


In the back line, Millwall’s James Meredith has had a stellar domestic season as they push for promotion and he will be hard to leave out despite a lack of international minutes. 

Josh Risdon and Croatian-based Fran Karacic are set to battle it out for the right back spot with Karacic yet to play for the green and gold but boosted by a strong reputation in Europe. 

Former Newcastle Jets duo Andrew Nabbout and Dimi Petratos impressed in their respective debuts in March. Both have had great club seasons with Nabbout securing a move to the J-League with Urawa Reds and they can bring a real x-factor for Australia moving forward. 

Midfield veteran Mark Milligan moved to Saudi Arabia mid-season ands has been playing regularly with his versatility and experience surely giving him an edge for Socceroos selection. 

Speaking of veterans, Tim Cahill will be a very hard man to leave off the plane to Russia but a lack of game time for Millwall is surely a cause for some concern. Cahill’s sheer ability to perform in big games should ensure he doesn’t miss out, but stranger things have happened. A three-match ban to end his club season wouldn't have done him any favours. 

He might not be a fan favourite but Robbie Kruse will very likely be in the Socceroos squad. Having been playing and scoring for Bundesliga.2 side Bochum, he’s a player van Marwijk is unlikely to overlook.


LONG SHOTS


Another Sky Blue in the form of midfielder Josh Brillante was named in the Socceroos 26-man squad for friendlies in March but didn't get any minutes and will need a number of midfielders to fade fast if he's any hope of going to Russia. 

James Troisi is in a similar boat and though he ended up winning the A-League championship with Melbourne Victory had a personally underwhelming season and faces some stiff competition in midfield.

Daniel Arzani lit up the A-League this season for Melbourne City with fans demanding the teenager gets a Socceroos cap with Iran looming in the background. After not being named in the squad for friendlies in March the teenager's hopes of a World Cup call-up looked slim but his inclusion in an extended 26-man squad means he will have a final chance to show what he can bring to the national team in Russia. 

After initially being cut from van Marwijk's 26-man squad, Jamie Maclaren was recalled because of a knee injury to Juric and needs his fellow striker to bow out while also impress quickly to seal an unlikely spot in Russia.