Socceroos 26-man squad, selection preview, contenders, Tom Rogic, Graham Arnold, Garang Kuol, Harry Souttar, Denis Genreau, latest, updates

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On Tuesday afternoon at 4pm AEDT, a nation of almost 26 million will learn which 26 players have been selected to represent them at the biggest tournament in football, the FIFA World Cup.

Socceroos boss Graham Arnold has almost certainly settled on his final 26-man squad to take to Qatar, with late injuries the only form of intervention that could rob a player of their dream.

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Foxsports.com.au has already completed a comprehensive analysis of the locks, 50/50s and bolters on the table, with a predicted final squad and starting line-up for the first game against France.

But what do we know about the Socceroos’ World Cup squad so far?

For starters, Arnold told foxsports.com.au that there’s only a handful of spots that don’t have a concrete name attached just yet.

“There’s still probably a good four or five positions up for grabs,” Arnold said.

“I can’t say exactly where they are, but we’re still looking. And again because they play club football right up until the 12, 13th [of November], we’ve got to be prepared in case something happens to anyone on the 12th and 13th and they’re out.

“Even though we are selecting the squad (earlier), we’ve got to make sure that if someone gets injured on the 12th and 13th that we’ve got a plan B, C on the cards.”

One name that is reportedly locked in according to CODE Sportsis attacking midfielder Tom Rogic.

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Rogic did not play in either of Australia’s World Cup play-off matches against the UAE or Peru as he withdrew from the squad for personal reasons.

He also took his time to find a new club after leaving Celtic at the end of the 21/22 season, with the Canberran linking up with English Championship side West Bromwich Albion in September.

Arnold noted that Rogic’s reasons for withdrawing are “his business, whatever they are and whatever they were”, but noted that “the only most important thing” is that the 29-year-old is “back happy and he’s playing and that’s important.”

Rogic has just one start since joining the Baggies in which he logged 57 minutes, but since then has come off the bench four times for no more than 33 minutes.

Yet Arnold knows what Rogic can bring to the team and believes he has built his fitness up to a suitable level to have an impact in Qatar.

Moving slightly backwards in the midfield area and CODE Sports claims Denis Genreau is set to make the cut.

Genreau, who plies his trade with French Ligue 1 outfit Toulouse, has mustered up just 87 minutes of action this season with all of his appearances coming as a substitute.

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The most amount of action the 23-year-old has received is a 21-minute spell in Toulouse’s first game of the season, but since then hasn’t played more than 18 minutes in one game.

However, Arnold is a fan of the tidy midfielder who no doubt left a lasting impression on the boss when Genreau was in the Australian Olympic squad in Tokyo last year.

Of course, there are big questions surrounding Central Coast Mariners sensation Garang Kuol.

He made an electrifying cameo in his Socceroos debut against New Zealand, playing a pivotal role in the Socceroos’ second goal of the day.

The teenager’s rapid rise was capped off with an imminent move to newly-minted Premier League outfit Newcastle United, who he will join in January.

Kuol provided further evidence of his ability in the Mariners’ 3-0 win over the Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday as he assisted two goals.

However, it came after he entered the contest off the bench, which is the only way he knows how in his burgeoning career.

Kuol is yet to start a professional match for the Mariners and it is his biggest drawback, if one can call it that.

However, Arnold isn’t fussed about that and knows having someone who can influence games off the bench could prove to be invaluable in Qatar.

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“If you did pick a Garang Kuol, there is a title there, an impact player off the bench,” Arnold said.

“He could be someone like that. And there’s other players that could also be that impact player off the bench.”

Moving to the backline now and CODE Sports claims there will be five centre backs chosen.

Trent Sainsbury and Milos Degenek have been the first-choice pairing in recent times under Arnold as Harry Souttar was sidelined with an ACL injury, so the pair are almost a certainty to go to Qatar.

Souttar has recently returned to action as well, making four appearances Stoke City’s under-21 side and was an unused sub in the Potters’ 2-1 defeat to Birmingham City.

With the towering youngster back to fitness, he will also highly likely be one of the five.

That leaves two spots with somewhat of a question mark.

Kye Rowles, who has returned for club side Hearts after a broken foot, would be a high-risk selection given he hasn’t had a lot of minutes lately.

Yet the 24-year-old is one of the best centre-backs in the Aussies’ ranks as of late and would be stiff to miss out.

Should Rowles take that final spot, it pits Thomas Deng in a likely battle against Bailey Wright for that final centre-back spot.

Counting in Deng’s favour is the fact he can play as a centre-back or a right back and at a tournament like the World Cup, the ability to adapt is critical.

As for Wright, he was stupendous alongside Rowles for the Socceroos’ play-off match against Peru and has clear leadership qualities, but he has struggled for minutes with Sunderland.

All will be revealed to the public at 4pm on Tuesday, but until then, several Aussie footballers will wait for that special phone call to let them know they’re on the plane to Qatar.

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