MELBOURNE (REUTERS) - Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou has recalled strikers Tim Cahill and Tomi Juric in a preliminary 30-man squad for this month's crunch World Cup qualifiers against Iraq and United Arab Emirates.
The pair missed the surprise 2-2 draw against Thailand in November because of fitness concerns but their inclusion offers Postecoglou extra scoring options along with forwards Mathew Leckie and Nathan Burns.
Australia's timid display in Bangkok tipped them to third in Asia's Group B behind Saudi Arabia and Japan, outside the top two spots that guarantee automatic qualification for next year's global showpiece in Russia.
Australia travel to Tehran to take on Iraq on March 23 before a quick turnaround to play the UAE in Sydney on March 28.
England-based midfielder Massimo Luongo and back-up goalkeeper Mitch Langerak were also included in the squad named on Wednesday after missing the Thailand game through injury, while Melbourne Victory forward James Troisi was recalled for the first time since 2015. Perth Glory defender Rhys Williams, a member of Postecoglou's first Socceroos squad in Nov. 2013, returns after three injury-plagued years.
The squad, featuring seven uncapped players, will be trimmed to 23 next week to give players a final chance to press their claims at club level this weekend.
"With the Asian leagues and some countries in Europe only just starting (their seasons) I wanted to have another look," Postecoglou said in a media release.
"It is encouraging to have the experience of Tim Cahill, Tomi Juric, Mass Luongo, Mitch Langerak and James Troisi back in the squad but we also have some players who have been on the fringe who have been knocking on the door of both the squad and the starting side."