Last Socceroos spots up fro grabs - 06/03/2006
SOCCEROOS boss Guus Hiddink and his assistants Graham Arnold and Johan Neeskens have, barring illness or injury, settled on 18 names for their 23-man squad for the World Cup finals in Germany in June.
Top of the list are the 15 players who joined the Dutchman close to his Eindhoven base for a weather-affected training camp last week.
Also sure to be on the list are two players who would have been in the Netherlands but for injury or unavailability.
Basle utility Scott Chipperfield is still receiving treatment for the kidney damage he sustained playing for his Swiss club and could not make it to Eindhoven.
f Moore is fit - and, with his record of injuries over the past two years there must always be a question mark - he'll definitely be in contention. His leadership and experience mean he will demand a spot in the squad.
More than a dozen players are battling for the remaining spots. Among them are Michael Beauchamp, the 24-year-old Central Coast Mariners centre back who impressed many when he made an assured debut against Bahrain last month, with several observers tipping him to win a spot. Beauchamp is quick, good on the ball and decent in the air.
But the fact that his season ended yesterday with the A-League grand final will count against him. He needs to move to Europe on a short-term loan (perhaps to Romania or Scandinavia, where the transfer window shuts at a different time) to retain fitness and get match practice.
Among defenders, players in the A-League such as Adelaide United centre-back Mike Valkanis and the wide defenders Spase Dilevski (Queensland Roar), Alvin Ceccoli (Sydney FC) and Jade North (Newcastle Jets) are regarded as long shots.
In the midfield there are likely to be only one or two positions available. Joel Griffiths, Ahmad Elrich and Luke Wilkshire all were in the squad for Uruguay but played no part in either Montevideo or Sydney. Wilkshire and Elrich played against Bahrain. Similarly, Dutch-based Brett Holman impressed in his second-half debut against Bahrain and the 21-year-old could be a chance. Holman is in good form for Excelsior, a second-division feeder club for top Dutch club Feyenoord.
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