Roo Radar, Aussies abroad, Socceroos state of play, Socceroos at World Cup 2026, Graham Arnold, latest, updates

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The Asian Cup has ended and the Socceroos are back at their clubs – although for some of them, the January transfer window saw them secure major transfers.

Now, Socceroos coach Graham Arnold can turn his full focus to World Cup qualification, with the Aussies resuming their road to the 2026 tournament next month.

Here’s the situation for every Socceroo – and a couple of other guns who are knocking down the door for international selection.

This mega Roo Radar begins with Socceroos who featured in the Asian Cup squad sorted by position, before including a number of other notable names.

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GOALKEEPERS

Mat Ryan

The Socceroos skipper recovered from a fractured cheekbone in time to play in all five of the Socceroos’ Asian Cup games and was a calming presence throughout.

With Ryan between the sticks the Socceroos conceded just three goals all tournament long, one of which was a penalty and another an unstoppable free-kick from South Korean star Son Heung-Min.

Ryan kept up his trend of clean sheets in his first game back for AZ Alkmaar as they drew 0-0 with Almere City.

Ryan needed to wear a face mask for some Asian Cup games after surgery on a fractured cheekbone.
Ryan needed to wear a face mask for some Asian Cup games after surgery on a fractured cheekbone.Source: Getty Images

Joe Gauci

Gauci travelled to Qatar as the clear back-up to Ryan but he did earn a start in the final warm-up match against Bahrain which the Socceroos won 2-0.

Despite not playing, Gauci generated plenty of headlines in Australian football after he completed a switch from Adelaide United to Premier League outfit Aston Villa for up to $2.5m

Emi Martinez, the latest recipient of the Yashin Troph for the best goalkeeper in the world, is Villa’s clear number one as Gauci will compete with Swedish veteran Robin Olsen for the back-up role.

Gauci has already been heavily involved at the Birmingham outfit and was a part of the warm-up drills prior to his new side’s fixture against Manchester United at Villa Park.

The 23-year-old has also been registered in Villa’s squad for the remainder of the Europa Conference League.

Could we see Gauci in the Premier League this season?Source: Getty Images

Lawrence Thomas

Although Thomas didn’t see a single minute of action for the Socceroos, he was thrust straight back into action for the Western Sydney Wanderers.

Thomas was included in the Wanderers’ extended squad for the fixture against Macarthur on February 4 but came on at halftime in place of Daniel Margush.

Unfortunately for Thomas, there was little he could do to prevent Valere Germain’s winner in the 93rd minute as Macarthur sealed a highly controversial 4-3 victory that sparked a furious rant from Wanderers boss Marko Rudan in his post-match press conference.

DEFENDERS

Nathaniel Atkinson

The 24-year-old right back made three Asian Cup appearances for the Socceroos, but faces a tough task to regain his place in the starting XI for Scottish side Heart of Midlothian. Hearts signed 20-year-old Jamaican talent Dexter Lembisika on loan from Premier League side Wolves in mid-January, and he’s impressed in six appearances since the move. Atkinson came off the bench to replace Lembisika in a Cup game on the weekend but will be desperate to earn his place back in the starting side.

Aziz Behich

33-year-old Behich sealed a massive loan move to Saudi club Al-Nassr – joining the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo – after playing every minute of the Socceroos’ five Asian Cup matches at left back. He debuted in an Asian Champions League clash, playing the full 90 minutes, in a promising sign he’ll be in the starting XI for the Saudi giants for the remainder of the season.

Behich in the yellow and blue of Al-Nassr.Source: Getty Images

Jordy Bos

The supremely talented 21-year-old locked down the left wing-back role at Belgian club Westerlo this season after joining from Melbourne City last July (for a fee that was at the time the Australian record). Since returning from the Asian Cup, where he made five appearances (three starts) and scored a goal off the bench against India, he’s immediately regained his starting spot at club level.

Socceroos coach Graham Arnold prefers to use him as a left winger, but Bos has typically been used as a fullback by Westerlo who sit 11th in the Belgian Pro League.

Cameron Burgess

The Scottish-born 28-year-old is right back in English Championship team Ipswich Town’s starting XI after returning from the Asian Cup, where he started one game and came off the bench in the quarter-final defeat.

Ipswich sit fourth in the Championship with a game in hand as they chase promotion to the Premier League, and Burgess looks set to add to his 24 league appearances already this season – remarkably, he has never been substituted in those matches.

He plays alongside Aussie midfielder Massimo Luongo, who turned down an Asian Cup call-up and retired from international duty to focus on the club’s promotion push.

Thomas Deng

The 26-year-old didn’t get onto the field in the Asian Cup – and hasn’t played for the Socceroos since March last year – but he’ll be eagerly anticipating the start of the new J-League season next weekend. The versatile centre-back started most matches for Japanese top-flight club Albirex Niigata last season as they finished tenth, and he’ll hope to retain his role this time around.

Gethin Jones

The 28-year-old is back in the starting line-up at League One club Bolton Wanderers after three starts for the ‘Roos in Qatar – and he’s even worn the captain’s armband in both games since his return. And this week, the right-back scored his first league goal of the season with a looping set-piece header in a 2-1 win for the third-placed side. With games in hand, Bolton are well in contention for automatic promotion that would see Jones reach England’s second tier.

Lewis Miller

The 23-year-old right back played less than 50 minutes across two Asian Cup games, but he’s another Aussie to return straight to the starting line-up at club level. Miller made his 16th start of the Scottish Premiership season (plus one bench appearance) in Hibernian’s 2-1 defeat to heavyweights Celtic, then backed up on the weekend with another start in a cup win.

All up, he’s played 41 times for Hibs since joining in July 2022, and shows plenty of promise as a long-term Socceroos prospect despite struggling in the Asian Cup.

Kye Rowles

Rowles started every single league game for Hearts (in Scotland) before the Asian Cup, and came right back into the side in a cup win on the weekend. The 25-year-old was a standout in the Asian Cup, playing every minute in four of the five matches, and is contracted with Hearts until 2028 – showing just how much they value the cool, calm, and collected centre-back.

Harry Souttar

Souttar is in a dire position at his Championship club Leicester, with the 200cm centre-back in virtual exile. He’s played just four appearances (two starts) this season for a total of 188 minutes. A strong Asian Cup performance put him in the shop window in the January transfer window, with Scottish giants Rangers and Celtic both interested in a loan move – but a deal to join brother John at Rangers fell through on deadline day. Saudi side Al-Nassr were also interested.

Souttar has vowed to fight for minutes at Leicester, but is unlikely to feature unless a starting centre-back is injured.

“I know obviously to continue to be in the national team, I’ve got to be playing club football – but we’ll cross that bridge when it comes,” Souttar told AAP during the Asian Cup.

“He’s got to sort out his club career, he really does,” coach Graham Arnold told AAP. “This can’t go on forever.”

For now, Souttar will be waiting desperately for the season to end and the next transfer window to offer him a way out of his nightmare.

Souttar kept up his incredible scoring record by pitching in at the Asian Cup.Source: Getty Images

MIDFIELDERS

Keanu Baccus

After playing all five matches at the Asian Cup, Baccus returned to Scottish club St Mirren with a half-hour bench appearance before a 90-minute effort against Celtic in the Cup. He’s started most games this season – and come off the bench in the handful where he’s started from the pine – and looks a crucial player in St Mirren’s run home. 25-year-old Baccus is also off-contract at the end of the season, so the next few months will be crucial for his future.

Jackson Irvine

The midfield maestro is back at German second-tier club FC St Pauli, where he wears the captain’s armband – but missed out on playing on the weekend after being “quite sick” and having a “really bad week”. He’s back at training with the team now, who are three points clear at the top of the table despite suffering their first league loss since April 2023. 19-year-old Aljoscha Kemlein (on loan) has been excellent in filling in for Irvine in recent weeks, but the 30-year-old Aussie is nailed-on to get back into the starting team and push for promotion to Germany’s top flight in the next few months.

Irvine was devastated after Australia’s Asian Cup exit.Source: AFP

Riley McGree

McGree started six of the first ten Championship matches for Middlesbrough (and came off the bench in the other four) before suffering a foot injury that ruled him out for two months.

He returned for just a handful of bench appearances before jetting off to the Asian Cup, where he made two starts and three substitute showings. Those handy minutes put him in good stead upon his return to club football, where he came back with a bench appearance before playing the full 90 minutes yesterday – but at attacking midfield rather than his usual left wing role. That’s because Middlesbrough signed 23-year-old talent Finn Azaz from Championship rivals Plymouth Argyle in early January. He had seven goals and five assists before the move, and has nabbed a goal and an assist in five appearances for his new club since then. McGree has a tough battle on his hands to unseat Azaz, but could be

Connor Metcalfe

The 24-year-old has appeared in every match for the Socceroos since the start of 2023, and continued that run with three starts and two sub appearances at the Asian Cup. Since then, he’s returned to FC St Pauli alongside Irvine, and played 28 minutes off the bench upon his return. Overall, he’s made 21 appearances this season with 12 starts and nine substitution efforts – so will be looking to press his case for a locked-down starting berth in the final months of the season.

Aiden O’Neill

The defensive midfielder has been sensational for Belgian club Standard Liege this season, and took things to another level last weekend with a sensational goal in a 1-0 win over OH Leuven.

On the edge of the area, O’Neill chested the ball down before slamming a half-volley into the net, his first goal for the club after joining last July.

“To be honest, there is a bit of luck in this goal,” the Aussie told DH Les Sports+. “I was in a good position and I said to myself ‘why not take my chance?’.

“I had already dreamed of scoring a goal like that but, to succeed in doing it, especially in such an important match, is something else. It means a lot.

“I had already scored goals from outside the box but, yes, I can say that this one is probably the best of my career. And it brings three super important points for the team.”

O’Neill had started six-straight league matches before the Asian Cup and looks to be back in the first team.

Aussie returns from Asian Cup in style | 00:41

FORWARDS

Martin Boyle

Having missed the 2019 Asian Cup and the 2022 World Cup through injury, Boyle finally got to represent the Socceroos at an international tournament.

The 30-year-old winger even got his first tournament goals, scoring a penalty against Uzbekistan and one of Australia’s four against Indonesia.

Boyle has wasted little time in returning to form for club side Hibernian since returning, scoring once and assisting another in the club’s 3-1 win over Inverness CT in the fifth round of the Scottish FA Cup.

He also played the full match as a right winger in a 2-1 defeat to Celtic on February 7 as Hibernian remain in eighth in the Scottish Premiership.

Sammy Silvera

Since moving to Middlesbrough from the Central Coast Mariners last summer, Silvera has largely been used as an impact substitute, coming off the bench 13 times prior to the Asian Cup.

Silvera enjoyed a similar role for the Socceroos in Qatar whenever Arnold sought out a fresh injection of pace and trickery but struggled to find his groove.

The Aussie youngster has once again reprised his role as an impact sub upon returning to Middlesbrough, coming off the bench in Boro’s last three Championship fixtures against Sunderland, Bristol City — where he scored a 91st-minute consolation goal — and Preston North End.

With 15 game left in Middlesbrough’s season, Silvera will hope to earn some regular starts as he looks to prove he belongs at the Championship level.

Bruno Fornaroli

Fornaroli entered the Asian Cup on the back of some scintillating form for Melbourne Victory, scoring 13 goals in 10 games.

A first start in Qatar for Fornaroli didn’t arrive until the Round of 16 clash against Indonesia as a result of Mitchell Duke’s injury-enforced absence, with the Victory man consigned to cameos off the bench in the Socceroos’ other games.

Fornaroli fired a blank in his first game back for Victory (1-0 defeat to Macarthur), when he suffered a fractured hand – but still played the entire game. He has since undergone surgery but could still play this weekend, and it’d be silly to bet against the 36-year-old enjoying another rich vein of scoring form.

After all, he’s still tied first for the golden boot race alongside Newcastle’s Apostolos Stamatelopoulos despite missing five games.

’El Tuna’ may be 36 years old, but he’s in vintage scoring form.Source: Getty Images

Kusini Yengi

Yengi took major strides in staking his claim to be the Socceroos’ next long-term option up front, starting the group stage clash against Uzbekistan in place of an injured Mitchell Duke, with Arnold describing his performance as “outstanding.”

He may not provide the same relentless pressing as Duke does up top, but Yengi’s physicality and ability to hold the ball up certainly caught the eye.

Yengi earned his call-up thanks to a strong debut season for League One promotion hopefuls Portsmouth with seven goals in 17 appearances prior to the Asian Cup.

And the former Western Sydney Wanderers man didn’t need to wait long to make an impact on his return at Fratton Park, scoring the first of Portsmouth’s three in a win over Cambridge United.

Marco Tilio

Having secured a dream move from Melbourne City to Celtic last summer, Tilio’s endured a Glaswegian nightmare.

The 22-year-old had clocked 28 minutes all season long under Hoops boss Brendan Rodgers but was still included in Arnold’s Asian Cup squad due to his ability to “bring that bit of difference as an impact player” and to “get that smile back on his face.”

Tilio appeared just once for the Socceroos in Qatar — five minutes off the bench against Uzbekistan — but has since secured a loan move to Melbourne City for the remainder of the season.

He made his return in the 5-1 humiliation against Brisbane in a 32-minute appearance off the bench and one would imagine it won’t be long before he’s back starting games again.

It is a loan move that must work out for Tilio in a bid to force his way back into Rodgers’ Celtic plans.

Otherwise his time with the Hoops could be over as quickly as it began.

Mitchell Duke

Duke remains Arnold’s first choice at striker, although the two group stage fixtures he played in didn’t exactly play to his main strengths of stretching opposition backlines.

The 33-year-old also had a golden chance to send Australia into the semi-finals against South Korea but flashed his header wide.

Duke is now gearing up for the 2024 J1 League season with Machida Zelvia having helped the team achieve promotion last year.

At his age, it’s likely Duke has just one more World Cup cycle left in him as Arnold must eventually turn to the next generation.

But as long as Duke has plenty of running left in him, he won’t give up his starting spot without a fight.

Craig Goodwin

Goodwin continues to age like a fine wine and richly deserved his spot in the AFC’s Asian Cup 2023 team of the tournament.

However, Goodwin cannot let his performances for club or country dip knowing Jordan Bos is breathing down his neck as his replacement at left wing, even though the latter has made his name predominantly as a left back.

The 32-year-old last featured for Saudi Pro League side Al-Wehda on December 31 before the league took a brief pause, but has started 13 of the 14 league games he’s played in this season.

Goodwin will most certainly have a vital part to play in the Socceroos’ road to qualifying for the 2026 World Cup and will hope to feature at the tournament.

Goodwin’s outstanding performances at the Asian Cup saw him named in the team of the tournament.Source: Getty Images

John Iredale

Iredale represented somewhat of a surprise inclusion in Arnold’s Asian Cup squad, although the Aussie boss revealed the forward was a player he’d “admired for a long time.”

The 24-year-old, who plies his trade with 2. Bundesliga side Wehen Wiesbaden, didn’t see a minute of action in Qatar but earning a call-up is no easy feat.

In his return to action for Wehen Wiesbaden, Iredale came off the bench against FC Nuremberg for a brief cameo.

However, should Iredale start to receive more regular starts, expect him to figure in the conversation for Socceroos inclusions for several more international windows to come.

OTHERS — NON ASIAN CUP

Calem Nieuwenhof

The 22-year-old centre midfielder (well, he turns 23 tomorrow!) was one of the standouts in the last A-League season before moving to Scottish club Hearts in July. Since then, he’s come along in leaps and bounds – so much so that his coach is confident he’ll lace up his boots for the Socceroos soon.

After a slow start to the season, Hearts are third in the league with eight wins in a row in all competitions, and their Aussie foursome of Nieuwenhof, Kye Rowles, Nathaniel Atkinson and fellow young midfielder Cameron Devlin have been crucial to their success.

He’s played 25 times in all competitions, scoring two goals in his last five games and picking up an assist. His most recent goal was an absolute stunner.

Crucial to his rise has been an increased physicality and toughness in the midfield scrap – with the Scottish league the perfect place for the youngster to grow in that regard.

“The character he is, he’s a reserved person and is really chilled out,” coach Steven Naismith told The Scotsman. “That probably went against him in his first few months when he was finding his feet, but in training you can see his quality – his calmness in possession, his understanding of the game, his range of passing, and he is a goal threat as well.

“He’s one of the fittest players at the club. What he brings on and off the ball is really important. He’s consistently improving and becoming more dominant in games, which is why we signed him. We knew he was a good player, he’s a really good player.

“He’s got a desire to get into the international team and I don’t think that’ll be too far away if he continues in the same vein of form.”

Nieuwenhof said his manager was ‘not wrong, for sure’ about being chilled out – but added: “You need to go into every game with that mindset that you are going to have to get stuck in and get involved. Cammy’s great to learn from. He’s a real dog and a really aggressive player. For sure that is something I can take from his game. That’s something I have really learned across the last few months and brought it into my game and just trying to get consistency into that side of my game, the physical aspect.”

For now, he looms as a crucial member of Australia’s Under-23 Olyroos squad who will compete in the U-23 Asian Cup in April-May in a bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. But he’s building a compelling case to join the Socceroos’ stacked midfield ranks.

Two-cap Socceroo Cameron Devlin, meanwhile, was ruled out for around six weeks after an ankle injury which cost him a place at the Asian Cup. The 25-year-old has been on the bench for the last two games for Hearts but has not yet played.

Alessandro Circati

Circati’s stock continues to rise with every game for Serie B side Parma and it’s only going to strengthen the case for his inclusions in future Socceroos squads.

The 20-year-old was left out of the team that went to the Asian Cup as Arnold felt it was better for his development to keep playing at club level rather than warm the bench in Qatar.

Since Serie B resumed from the winter break, Circati has started three of the five games, with one draw and two wins in that time with Parma losing one of the games he was benched for.

Circati has plenty of years on his side and, crucially, the benefit of regular game time.

Additionally, Parma are six points clear at the top of Serie B and are no doubt the favourites for promotion, meaning Circati could very easily be lining up in Italy’s top flight next season.

If Parma go up and Circati starts Serie A games, the noise will only grow louder for his inclusion in Socceroos line-ups – and the rumours of Premier League interest will only grow stronger.

Ajdin Hrustic

Hrustic has rapidly fallen from his status as one of the Socceroos’ key creative outlets to the international wilderness, but a January switch could provide the spark needed to get his career back on track.

The midfielder’s move from Frankfurt to Serie A side Hellas Verona has been an unmitigated disaster, failing to even make the bench for any of their league games this season.

But Hrustic sealed a loan switch to Dutch side Heracles Almelo and earned a start in just his second match, helping the club to a 3-2 win over Vitesse. It was his first top-flight start in over a year.

It’s a much-needed move for Hrustic if he is to force himself back into Arnold’s thoughts ahead of World Cup qualification.

Hrustic has not appeared for the Socceroos since a 45-minute showing in the 2-0 friendly defeat to Argentina in China last June.

Given the Socceroos’ struggles when it came to unlocking deep-lying defences at the Asian Cup — a problem the Aussies will encounter throughout the road to the 2026 World Cup — Hrustic’s return would be a welcome one.

Hrustic finally ended a year-long nightmare at Verona.Source: Getty Images

Cristian Volpato

Until Volpato makes his international future clear, there’s still a chance he could be capped for the Socceroos in the not-too-distant future.

Speaking to ESPNprior to the Asian Cup, Arnold revealed he had been in constant communication with Volpato but the talented midfielder “wants to just focus on his club career” for now.

Since moving from Roma to Sassuolo last summer, Volpato has largely been consigned to appearing off the bench and only just made his first start of the season against Bologna.

But Volpato made full use of the opportunity, scoring a stunning goal to give Sassuolo a 2-1 lead in the 34th minute as they went on to record a 4-2 victory.

With the 2026 World Cup cycle about to begin, could Volpato’s interest in international football be piqued?

Nestory Irankunda, Garang Kuol and Awer Mabil

And what of the Socceroos’ attacking trio of Nestory Irankunda, Garang Kuol and Awer Mabil?

Mabil has been a mainstay of the Socceroos set-up and loomed as a likely inclusion for the Asian Cup squad, but he picked up an injury in Grasshopper’s 1-0 win over Basel on December 10 and has not been sighted since.

Prior to the injury, Mabil had been in solid form throughout the season and started eight out of 12 games he appeared in, with four goals and three assists to boot.

At 28 years of age, expect Mabil to be in and around Socceroos squads for the next World Cup cycle.

Popular figure Awer Mabil missed the Asian Cup with injury.Source: Getty Images

On the other end of the age spectrum is Kuol and Irankunda.

Kuol burst onto the scene for the Central Coast Mariners and earned a move to Premier League side Newcastle United, but from there his club journey hasn’t gone as he’d have hoped.

He moved to Eredivisie side FC Volendam on a season-long loan but they sit in 17th place, nine points away from safety.

Kuol himself has struggled to hold down a starting spot as well, clocking just 55 minutes of action since December.

It’s important to remember he is just 19 years of age and there’s plenty of time on his side, but as it stands, he’s behind in the pecking order of Socceroos’ wingers.

Garang Kuol scored his maiden Socceroos goal last March.Source: Getty Images

Then there’s Adelaide United winger Irankunda, who recently turned 18 and is headed for Bayern Munich at the end of the season.

The teenage sensation turned heads with blistering power in his shots and silky runs down the right, breezing past defender with ease.

However, since his move was announced, Irankunda has often cut a frustrated figure on the field and Adelaide coach Carl Veart even said he doesn’t “see enough happiness” from the prodigy.

Irankunda was brought into the Socceroos fold as a train-on player for the friendlies against Ecuador in March last year and has also featured for the Joeys.

Should Irankunda continue his remarkable upward trajectory with Bayern, a full Socceroos call-up is not out of the question and he could loom as a major game-changer for the upcoming World Cup cycle.

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