Aaron Mooy headlines a list of Socceroos mainstays to be unavailable for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers in Kuwait.
The 30-year-old Chinese Super League star informed Socceroos coach Graham Arnold he would not be available to play in the qualifiers for personal reasons, having not seen his family since joining Shanghai Port back in August.
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The former Huddersfield Town star is one of several key names to be unavailable for the June qualifiers, with fellow international star Tom Rogic out and Mitch Langerak's surprising many with his move to retire from international competition earlier this month.
Arnold has instead had to select seven uncapped players, and pulled the likes off Nikita Rukavytsya, James Holland and Curtis Good from the international wilderness to once again wear the green and gold.
Considering the pull of family for Mooy and a nagging ankle injury Rogic was struggling to get on top of, Arnold said missing the qualifiers would have no bearing in future selection for either.
To select this squad it was the hardest that I've had to do because everyone has personal decisions and personal reasons," Arnold said.
"I had to speak, obviously, to every player to make sure that they were ready to come.
"The way the world is at the moment with the quarantine side of things and with COVID around it's down to the individual.
"It's a very strong squad. We've got great depth in every position, and I'm excited about the players that are coming here."
Socceroos to rely on debutants in World Cup qualifiers
Melbourne City's Connor Metcalfe is one of three potential debutants from the A-League along with Macarthur's Denis Genreau and Central Coast defender Ruon Tongyik.
Metcalfe will be joined in the Middle East by Melbourne City teammates Jamie Maclaren and Good, leaving the A-League premiers without the key trio for their upcoming finals campaign.
Sydney FC, meanwhile, will have to chase a third consecutive championship without defenders Rhyan Grant, Ryan McGowan and goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne following their selection.
Tongyik, a 24-year-old ex-Australian under-23 international who nearly represented his native South Sudan in 2019, will miss the Mariners' finals campaign after his call-up.
Western Sydney's Mitchell Duke and Perth's Chris Ikonomidis are the other A-League stars called up, with both given permission from both their clubs to leave early and join the Socceroos squad in Dubai this week.
As well as Metcalfe, Tongyik and Genreau, a quartet of overseas-based players could debut in the upcoming fixtures for Australia.
English-based duo Riley McGree and Kenneth Dougall as well as Fran Karacic and goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas are the other players in Arnold's squad without a cap.
While Rogic and Mooy aren't travelling, regular starters Mat Ryan, Jackson Irvine, Milos Degenek and Mathew Leckie are all named with Australia in the box seat to reach the next stage of qualification after four wins from their opening four matches.
The last of those games was over 550 days ago and Arnold said the excitement was tangible with less than 10 days to go until the clash with Kuwait on June 3 (0430 AEST, June 4) at the Jaber Al-Hamed Stadium.
"We just can't wait to get the Socceroos brand back on the field. We're the highest ranked team in the world that hasn't played a game in 18 months," he said.
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