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Cahill makes final Socceroos cut – despite just 38 minutes of football

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When it came to the most important selection of all, new Socceroos coach Bert van Marwijk couldn't resist the temptation to include Tim Cahill. A late flurry of cameo appearances off the bench proved enough for the 38-year-old to be included in the first national team under the tenure of the Dutch coach for the upcoming friendlies agianst Norway and Colombia in Europe.

While there's no denying his consistent performances and results for the national team, Cahill can be considered a surprise inclusion in the final 26-man squad that will congregate in Oslo given a lack of game time. In the past four months, Cahill has played just 38 minutes of senior football, all as late appearances off the bench.

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His forehead guided Australia to a World Cup – having scored twice in the crucial play-off against Syria – however those are the only times the evergreen forward has found the back of the net all season.

The veteran has gradually worked his way back into the English Championship, making six appeareances as a substitute in their last seven games, which has proven enough to remain in the calculations for a fourth World Cup campaign.

However, potentially the biggest shock in van Marwijk's squad selection is not the inclusion of Cahill but the omission of Hibernian striker, Jamie Maclaren. The 24-year-old was listed in last week's preliminary squad and seemingly did enough to cement his place after a stellar performance in the Edinburgh derby last week, scoring an impressive goal against Hearts and denied another by the crossbar.

In his place though is rising star and new Urawa Red Diamonds signing, Andrew Nabbout, who has a chance to earn his first international cap on the back of his recent form with Newcastle Jets. His attacking partner from his former club, Dimitri Petratos, joins him as another fresh face in the 26-man team.

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Czech Republic-based defender Aleksandar Susnjar is another who has been selected for his first international camp having impressed with Australia's youth team in recent games and playing regularly for Mlada Boleslav, whom he recently joined from Teplice.

Sydney FC midfielder Josh Brillante will make his long-awaited return to the Socceroos and is understood to have been included due to his versatility as much as his performances over the last two seasons in the A-League.

Sources suggest Brillante will be looked at as a potential solution to Australia's troublesome right fullback situation, a position in which he he played in his younger years but not since joining Sydney FC.

Western Sydney Wanderers' right back Josh Risdon keeps hold of his place in the squad in spite of his team's inconsistent performances, and will challenge Brillante for that position.

Feyenoord goalkeeper Brad Jones ends his time in the international wilderness after making the final cut to rejoin the national team after a four-year absence. He beat Japan-based Mitch Langerak for the final goalkeeping spot in the squad, alongside Genk's Danny Vukovic and Brighton's Mat Ryan.

Aaron Mooy has been selected despite a recent stint on the sidelines with a knee injury, while defenders Matt Jurman and Trent Sainsbury were also selected despite concerns over their fitness. The two centre-backs are yet to play senior club football in 2018.

Australia will play Norway in Oslo at 4am on Saturday, March 24 before facing Colombia in London at 6am on Wednesday, March 28.

Socceroos squad

Goalkeepers: Mat Ryan, Danny Vukovic, Brad Jones.

Defenders: Aziz Behich, Milos Degenek, Matt Jurman, James Meredith, Josh Risdon, Trent Sainsbury, Aleksandar Susnjar, Bailey Wright.

Midfielders: Josh Brillante, Jackson Irvine, Mile Jedinak, Matthew Leckie, Massimo Luongo, Mark Milligan, Aaron Mooy, Dimitri Petratos, Tom Rogic, Nikita Rukavytsya, James Troisi.

Forwards: Tim Cahill, Tomi Juric, Robbie Kruse, Andrew Nabbout.

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