The Socceroos have received a major double boost ahead of the World Cup with a pair of injured stars returning from injury.
Meanwhile, a number of other players delivered brilliant performances on a massive weekend for Aussies abroad.
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Arzani, Cummings put forward Roos cases | 01:32
SOUTTAR MAKES MASSIVE RETURN AFTER 341 DAYS
Towering defender Harry Souttar has returned to the pitch for the first time since suffering an ACL injury on the 11th of November 2021.
The injury halted his rapid rise, which had numerous Premier League clubs interested in a transfer move for the gifted youngster.
But, just days before his 24th birthday, the 6ft 7in centre-back started and played the first half for Stoke City’s U21s against the Nottingham Forest U21s.
Socceroos assistant coach Rene Meulensteen was on hand to witness the momentous occasion.
Stoke coach Alex Neil last week said he was hopeful Souttar could receive enough game-time in coming weeks to book his spot on the plane to Qatar.
“If he plays next week then he’s still got another three weeks and arguably Harry could fit in four or five games in that period. If you come through four or five games then there’s no reason why he wouldn’t be available at that point.”
The Socceroos must submit their squad for the World Cup by November 13.
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Another young centre-back has also received an injury boost. Kye Rowles, who broke his metatarsal (foot) in August, is set to return within a fortnight for his Scottish club Hearts.
Rowles, 24, debuted for Australia in June and played every minute of both World Cup play-offs against the UAE then Peru.
His impressive performances appeared to make him a lock for Qatar, before his unfortunate injury in Scotland.
Coach Graham Arnold will have his fingers crossed that both Souttar and Rowles – likely the centre-back pairing for the long-term – can find form and fitness in time for the tournament.
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MOOY MAKES STATEMENT
Midfield maestro Aaron Mooy has enjoyed his finest performances since moving to Ange Postecoglou’s Celtic. Mooy started for just the third time for the Bhoys, and played the full game in a 6-1 win over fellow Socceroo Martin Boyle’s Hibernian.
Mooy picked up two assists – for James Forrest to score the fourth goal and Daizen Maeda to score the sixth goal – in the big win.
Interestingly, he played in a more advanced No. 8 role than his typical deep-lying playmaker position, using his passing and creativity to devastating effect.
Boyle played the full match for Hibernian and also picked up the assist for their lone strike.
Staying in Scotland, Aziz Behich on Thursday scored for Dundee United against Boyle’s Hibs, his second strike in as many games.
OTHER AUSSIES SHINE
In England’s second tier, Kenny Dougall opened his goalscoring account for the season after picking up an assist in a 3-3 draw between his Blackpool and Sheffield United.
And in Germany, Jackson Irvine played the full match and bagged an assist for his St Pauli in a 3-0 Hamburg Derby win over fierce rivals Hamburg SV.
Irvine, the captain, recently signed a long-term contract extension with the second-tier German club.
KUOL SCORES FOR YOUNG ROOS
Meanwhile, 18-year-old Socceroos bolter Garang Kuol has scored the opening goal for the U20 Australian side in a 4-1 win over India’s U20 side in Kuwait.
Kuol buried a vicious strike from the edge of the area in the 11th minute, adding to his case for a shock call-up for Qatar.
Kuol failed to score in the Australia’s 4-1 win over hosts Kuwait in the AFC U20 Asian Cup qualifiers, with the Young Socceroos hoping to qualify for the U20 Asian Cup in Uzbekistan in March 2023.
Australia’s final match of the qualifiers is against Iraq at 12.30am AEDT, 19 October 2022.
Kuol’s inclusion in the Young Socceroos campaign has drawn some criticism, since it robs him of crucial minutes in the A-League Men.
The Central Coast Mariners player, who has agreed a deal to move to Premier League club Newcastle in January, will likely return to Australia this week in time for Sunday’s match with Perth Glory.
It will be the first of three or four appearances down under before the World Cup, with the teen starlet desperate to make his mark – as he did last season in his nine matches off the bench, scoring four times.