Date: May 16 2012
HOLGER Osieck's stealthy transformation of the Socceroos continues apace, with one uncapped player - Aston Villa utility Chris Herd - included in the squad for the upcoming friendly with Denmark and the World Cup qualifiers with Oman in Muscat and Japan in Brisbane next month.
Herd, 23, has been one of the few young Australians to snare a regular spot in the first team at a major league club in recent seasons, having established himself at the struggling Midlands side in the past 12 months.
The other fresh - although far from new - face in the 26-man party is Germany-based striker Nikita Rukavytsya, who has spent the past two years working hard to establish himself with Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin.
Rukavytsya has been in and out of the national team picture for several years, although he was part of the World Cup squad in South Africa.
Otherwise the squad is pretty much the usual suspects, familiar faces who have had years of success with the Socceroos augmented by younger players trying to establish themselves in second tier leagues and prove they have what it takes to get Australia to Brazil in 2014.
Mark Bresciano, restored to the team to such good effect as a midfield creator in the 4-2 win over Saudi Arabia in Melbourne three months ago, again figures large in Osieck's thoughts, with the coach suggesting he has a pivotal role to play through the campaign as an attacking midfielder.
Melbourne Victory pair Harry Kewell and Archie Thompson have been called up despite concerns over their fitness and match sharpness given that Victory's A-League season finished in mid-March.
Osieck said he had spoken to Kewell to gauge his state of mind and readiness to be involved, and added that assistant coach Aurelio Vidmar would make a progress report on Thompson's fitness.
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