Graham Arnold has provided a hint towards the future of the Socceroos by naming young A-League prospects Denis Genreau, Ruon Tongyik and Connor Metcalfe as members of his squad for Australia's World Cup qualifiers in June.
The trio are amongst seven uncapped players set to feature in Arnold's 31-man squad that will round out the second phase of Asian qualification for the 2022 World Cup with four games in 12 days, starting with a game against Kuwait on June 3, in a Kuwaiti-based hub.
For Central Coast Mariners defensive lynchpin Tongyik (24) and Melbourne City breakout star Metcalfe (21), their selections represent their first call-up to Australia's senior national side in their careers. Genreau, 22, received a call-up to Arnold's first squad in his second go-around as Socceroos boss back in 2018 but didn't see the field.
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"If COVID hadn't made an impact on the world I probably would have given these younger boys a chance a long time ago," said the Socceroos boss.
"The fact that it's a one-camp type thing in a bubble, there are four games in 12 days and we've got a 15-day camp, that gives me a chance to see those players but also see some players that haven't been in before or haven't been in for a long while."
With 16 goals for and just a single goal against, Australia is in the box-seat to progress from Group B after taking four wins from their opening four games -- the Socceroos are two points clear of Kuwait with a game in hand.
Only the winners of the second-phases eight groups are guaranteed progression to the next phase of qualification, where they will be joined by the four best group runners-up.
"[Genreau and Metcalfe] have had great seasons," said Arnold. "Macarthur has done a great job with Denny [Genreau] and taken him to another level. He's got a lot of match minutes at Macarthur and he's doing fantastic.
"Connor Metcalfe... I saw a lot in Connor but it's taken Paddy Kisnorbo to give Connor a lot of belief and a lot of confidence. Who would have thought he'd been captain of Melbourne City just two weeks ago? Connor has gone to a different level.
"Ruon, for me this year, has been the standout centre-back in the A-League, he's been fantastic. His strength, his pace, and he's comfortable on the ball.
"He was three days too old for the Olympic team, so what better way to pay him back a little bit and reward him for his performances than to bring him into camp?"
In total, 10 A-League players will head over to the Middle East as part of the squad -- the Socceroos will assemble in the United Arab Emirates for a training camp before embarking for Kuwait on May 31 -- with Melbourne City and Sydney FC the hardest hit sides in losing three players each.
City's runaway A-League Golden Boot leader Jamie Maclaren and defender Curtis Good will join Metcalfe on the plane, while the Harboursiders are set to lose starting goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne and defenders Ryan McGowan and Rhyan Grant.
The A-League not observing international breaks this season and facing a hard end-date to their season dictated by its expiring broadcast deal, the 10 players will be unavailable for their sides for the final game of the regular season and finals as a result of their selections.
"The fact that our season is still going on when the international season is, is crazy," City coach Patrick Kisnorbo, whose side wrapped up the competition's premiership on Saturday, said on Monday.
"It's Australian football. We've got international [players] leaving during our season. It only happens in this country."
Another player for the future in 22-year-old Birmingham City midfielder Riley McGree highlights the foreign contingent of uncapped players selected by Arnold, which also features 28-year-old Blackpool defensive midfielder Kenny Dougall and ex-Melbourne Victory and now SonderjyskE goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas.
Also in line for an international debut is previously forgotten Socceroo Fran Karacic.
A surprise addition to Bert van Marwijk's preliminary squad for the 2018 World Cup following a switch in allegiance from Croatia, the 25-year-old right-back, who plays for Brescia in Italy's Serie B, was amongst the final cuts of that group and until now hadn't featured in the national team picture since.
Much more familiar names to fans of the Socceroos are the likes of Arsenal's Mat Ryan, Hertha Berlin winger Mathew Leckie, KV Kortrijk's Trent Sainsbury and Red Star Belgrade's Milos Degenek, who are all set to add to their combined 199 international caps.
Promising Stoke City defender Harry Souttar, who scored on his senior international debut against Nepal earlier in qualifying, Hibernian duo Martin Boyle and Jackson Irvine, and record-setting striker Nikita Rukavytsya are also amongst those set to head to the Middle East.
Currently signed to Chinese Super League side Shanghai Port FC, Mooy has started all five of his side's games across its opening games of the 2021 campaign -- scoring in their May 5 derby against Shanghai Shenhua.
After rumours initially linked him with a move away from Scotland, Rogic remained with Celtic throughout the 2020-21 Scottish Premier League season, making 14 starts in 31 appearances across all competitions with the Hoops.
"It's for different reasons," Arnold said in explaining the two stars' absences.
"Aaron is away from his family and hasn't seen his wife and kids since December. And he had one small period when he could go and see them and I completely understand that, otherwise he's not going to see them for a full year. And that was now.
"Tommy Rogic has a small [ankle] injury to deal with and the only time he can get that better is now."
In a minor upset, 36-year-old goalkeeper Danny Vukovic, who is currently unattached after leaving Belgian club Racing Genk, has been tapped to round out the side's goalkeeping ranks over Macarthur's Adam Federici and City's Tom Glover.
Having last kicked a ball in a competitive fixture since November 2019, the Socceroos will mark their return to international action with a game against Kuwait on June 3 (4.30 am, June 4 AEST), before then playing Chinese Taipei on June 7 (2:30 am June 8 AEST), Nepal on June 11(2:30 am June 12 AEST), and Jordan on June 15 (4:30 am June 16 AEST).
Full Socceroos Squad:
Goalkeepers: Andrew Redmayne, Mat Ryan, Lawrence Thomas, Danny Vukovic
Defenders: Aziz Behich, Milos Degenek, Curtis Good, Rhyan Grant, Fran Karacic, Ryan McGowan, Trent Sainsbury, Brad Smith, Harry Souttar, Ruon Tongyik
Midfielders: Brandon Borrello, Kenneth Dougall, Denis Genreau, James Holland, Jackson Irvine, Riley McGree, Connor Metcalfe
Forwards: Martin Boyle, Mitchell Duke, Apostolos Giannou, Ajdin Hrustic, Chris Ikonomidis, Mathew Leckie, Awer Mabil, Jamie Maclaren, Nikita Rukavytsya, Adam Taggart