Sydney, Nov 2: Harry Kewell and Brett Emerton have been recalled to the Socceroos squad for two World Cup qualifiers for the first time since the pair signed on with Australian clubs this season.
Coach Holger Osieck announced his 23-man squad Wednesday, including former Liverpool forward Kewell and former Blackburn midfielder Emerton after a handful of matches in the domestic competition.
The squad for the Nov. 11 match against Oman and the Nov. 15 match against Thailand also include Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, Japan-based striker Josh Kennedy and Lucas Neill, the former West Ham defender who now plays for Al-Jazira in the United Arab Emirates.
Everton midfielder Tim Cahill was not considered due to a groin injury.
“With all the travel involved and not being 100 percent fit, it would be the best for him now to be omitted from the present squad,” Osieck said.
Osieck said he expected a higher level of play from Socceroos veterans Kewell and Emerton in the World Cup qualifiers than what he's seen in their performances for Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC so this season.
“They just started with the clubs here and it was the situation where I thought they had to get settled in their new environment,” Osieck told a Sydney news conference. “Now with a couple of games having been played, I thought I want to include them again.
“I have to admit, another very clear statement, that I ask a lot more from them than they have produced so far. But knowing their value and what they can bring to the team, I invited them.”
Osieck said he would pick his match squad on form rather than reputation.
“The bottom line is ... performance is what matters and everybody who's included here has to acknowledge it,” he said. “I'm looking to strengthening our team, in getting more depth—quality players that are available whenever they are needed that are really capable to fit in right away.
“That's the idea, not to be dependable on individuals, but having always the right answer to an upcoming question.”
Kewell, Emerton and Mitch Nichols, who plays for defending A-League champion Brisbane Roar, were the only Australia-based players included in the squad.
Aston Villa defender Chris Herd was called into the Australia squad for the first time.
Australia is on a three-game winning streak and leads Group D by five points from Thailand halfway through the third round of Asian qualifying. Osieck said his team management was on standby in case the Bangkok match had to be rescheduled or moved due to recent flooding in Thailand.
Alex Brosque (Shimizu S-Pulse, Japan), Nathan Coe (Snderjysk Elitesport, Denmark), Brett Emerton (Sydney FC), Adam Federici (Reading), Chris Herd (Aston Villa), Brett Holman (AZ Alkmaar), Mile Jedinak (Crystal Palace), Josh Kennedy (Nagoya Grampus, Japan), Harry Kewell (Melbourne Victory), Neil Kilkenny (Bristol City), Robbie Kruse (Fortuna Dusseldorf, Germany), Matt McKay (Glasgow Rangers), Lucas Neill (Al-Jazira), Mitch Nichols (Brisbane Roar), Sasa Ognenovski (Seongham Ilwha Chunma, South Korea), Adam Sarota (FC Utrecht), Mark Schwarzer (Fulham), Matthew Spiranovic (Urawa Red Diamonds, Japan), James Troisi (Kayserispor Kulubu, Turkey), Carl Valeri (Sassuolo), Luke Wilkshire (Dynamo Moscow), Rhys Williams (Middlesbrough), Michael Zullo (FC Utrecht).