Graham Arnold has blended experience with a smattering of new faces for the Socceroos’ friendly against Mexico in the US next week as the coach continues to plan for next year’s Asian Cup and beyond with the 2026 World Cup on the horizon.
Cameron Burgess is one of five uncapped players, alongside Sam Silvera, Ashley Maynard-Brewer, Alessandro Circati and Nick D’Agostino, in Arnold’s 23-man squad for the game in Dallas against the No 12-ranked Central Americans on 9 September.
Burgess becomes the latest Scotland-born player to be lured into the Australian fold, following the likes of fellow centre-back Harry Souttar, Jason Cummings and Martin Boyle.
Arnold has been tracking the 27-year-old’s progress at Championship side Ipswich, who he helped to promotion to England’s second tier last year. Born in Aberdeen, Burgess emigrated to Perth with his family as an 11-year-old and won youth caps for Australia as well as Scotland.
“We’ve been watching for about 12 months, and obviously he’s done well,” Arnold said. “I would have picked him for the Argentina game in China but he was injured and had to have an operation in the off-season.
“He fully deserves a call up. It’s fantastic to have another left-footed centre-back, he’s a big boy, physically very strong and he’s playing at a good level in the Championship with Ipswich.”
Burgess could win his first senior Australia cap at AT&T Stadium in the Socceroos’ first outing since going down to world champions Argentina in China in June.
Also in the mix after winning his first call-up is Middlesbrough’s Silvera, while Circati returns for his second stint in the national team camp after impressing for Serie B side Parma.
“He’s doing very well on the right wing,” Arnold said of Silvera. “In the A-League he was hot and cold but he seems to be performing more [consistently] at a good level now.”
D’Agonstino, who plies his trade for Viking in Norway, and Charlton’s Maynard-Brewer, who joins up with fellow goalkeepers Mat Ryan and Tom Glover, were also called up.
Arnold said that “overall, the kids are doing well”.
“We’ve brought several younger players into this camp to give the coaching staff a glimpse at how they can perform both within our system and on the international stage,” he said. “We’ve closely monitored the form they’re bringing from their clubs, and I’ve been really impressed with what I’ve seen overall.
“The new members of the squad will have the benefit of working alongside many of our established, senior players, who will play an important role in instilling the values and principles of our group.”
Garang Kuol, Adjin Hrustic, Jason Cummings and Awer Mabil were left out of the squad, but eEstablished first-team players Ryan, Aziz Behich, Milos Degenek, Jackson Irvine and Mathew Leckie will make the trip to the US, where the Socceroos can expect a partisan crowd at the 80,000-capacity AT&T Stadium.
“Playing Mexico is a great opportunity for the entire group, allowing us to not only test ourselves against quality opposition, but also familiarise ourselves with playing in the United States as we look towards 2026,” Arnold said.
“We’re coming up against top Central American opposition in front of what I’m sure will be a lively home crowd, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the squad approaches and responds to that challenge.”
The Socceroos also have friendlies lined up against England and New Zealand in October, valuable games that will inform Arnold ahead of World Cup qualifiers beginning in November and the 2023 Asian Cup in January 2024.
“These next three games allow us to provide valuable match minutes to players we want to see more of and, alongside the Olyroos also playing during September, helps us understand the overall depth of our squad looking ahead,” Arnold said.
Meanwhile, Arnold underlined his commitment to the Socceroos, after having been recently linked with the vacant manager’s job at SPL side Hibernian.
Arnold confirmed the Scottish club had approached him and while it was “an honour” to have been approached, he had turned an offer down.
“I love coaching my nation,” he said. “I spoke with the owner and at this moment the timing is not right. I have a job on my hands here. My full focus is on Socceroos.”
Squad: Mat Ryan (captain), Tom Glover, Ashley Maynard-Brewer; Nathaniel Atkinson, Aziz Behich, Cameron Burgess, Alessandro Circati, Milos Degenek, Kye Rowles, Harry Souttar, Ryan Strain; Keanu Baccus, Martin Boyle, Cammy Devlin, Denis Genreau, Jackson Irvine, Riley McGree, Connor Metcalfe, Aiden O’Neill, Sammy Silvera; Nick D’Agostino, Mitch Duke, Mathew Leckie.