THE 2018 World Cup dreams of A-League duo James Troisi and Josh Brillante and Euro-based pair Nikita Rukavytsya and Fran Karacic were today shattered, as striker Jamie Maclaren earnt an 11th hour reprieve.
The quartet were left heartbroken, informed of their last-gasp Russia 2018 axings upon returning to their Turkey training base after the 4-0 friendly win over Czech Republic.
Bert van Marwijk delivered the cruel news during one-on-one meetings at their Antalya training base, exactly 24 hours after the Austria friendly, where the remaining selection questions were answered.
All four flew out of Antalya on Saturday night (Turkey) time, en route to their respective homes and/or holiday destinations.
Maclaren (Hibernian) was called up late as standby for Tomi Juric but has impressed the coaching staff sufficiently to earn his spot in the last 23, meaning one of the other players were robbed of a golden World Cup ticket.
Troisi and Rukavytsya were both late subs against Colombia last March but A-League bolters Daniel Arzani (Melbourne City) and Dimi Petratos (Newcastle Jets) were preferred as attacking reserves for Mathew Leckie, Robbie Kruse, Tom Rogic, Andrew Nabbout and Jackson Irvine.
Karacic, 22, was called up to contest the right-back positions, but van Marwijk opted for Josh Risdon, who booked his first XI spot against France with a stellar effort against Czech Republic, and Milos Degenek as back-up.
Degenek’s late cameo at right-back meant that the card of Brillante — who was also thought to auditioning for right-back despite playing in midfield for Sydney FC — was marked.
Van Marwijk told Fox Sports after the Czech friendly that he was “90 per cent sure” about his final squad after making five substitutions in the match headlined by Leckie’s brace and Nabbout’s debut international goal.
“I have been very pleased with the effort and application of all of the players during our time in Turkey, and in Austria” van Marwijk said in a statement.
“Every step of the selection process has been difficult because the players have all given everything to make the final selection.
“However considering many factors, we have now settled on our final squad for Russia. I believe this group of players can do Australia proud at the world’s biggest football tournament if we continue to work collectively and intensively over the next two weeks and into the competition,” he said.
Football Federation Australia will now submit their final 23-man list to FIFA, ahead of their World Cup games against France, Denmark and Peru.
AUSTRALIA’S FINAL 23-MAN SQUAD
Brad Jones, Mat Ryan, Danny Vukovic; Aziz Behich, Milos Degenek, Matthew Jurman, James Meredith, Josh Risdon, Trent Sainsbury; Jackson Irvine, Mile Jedinak, Robbie Kruse, Massimo Luongo, Mark Milligan, Aaron Mooy, Tom Rogic; Daniel Arzani, Tim Cahill, Tomi Juric, Mathew Leckie, Jamie Maclaren, Andrew Nabbout, Dimitri Petratos.
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