Australia coach Holger Osieck believes veteran goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer has a key role to play in their FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign.
The 40-year-old is one of a larger-than-average squad of 26 selected for their trip to Japan on June 4, followed by home games against Jordan and Iraq.
It is a vital series of games for the Socceroos, who lie third in Asian qualifying group B, with only the top two teams progressing automatically.
Although Schwarzer faces an uncertain future at Fulham, Osieck believes the goalkeeper’s experience means he will not let his contract status affect his performances.
“As far as I have known Mark, he will be OK for us, despite any negotiations regarding contracts or whatever,” Osieck said.
“I think he will be our true number one. So not our starting number one, with the number on his shirt, but true number one in terms of guidance and in terms of aura to the team and being the backbone of the team.
“I think that he definitely will play his regular role for us.”
Schwarzer is one of a number of experienced players in the squad, which also sees captain Lucas Neill return from suspension.
There is also a place for midfielder Tim Cahill, who has scored four goals this season for MLS side the New York Red Bulls.
“I think to have Tim around is always good for the team. He is a very positive character,” Osieck said.
“He is always an inspiration to the other players and, of course with his personal situation right now, he is an attacking player who will gain a boost if he scores.
“Even in the last game against Oman, he was so positive and he really tried to have a great impact on the atmosphere within the group and I’m pretty sure that he’s going to do the same in the upcoming games.”
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