Nathan Burns the bolter for Asian Cup squad
SOCCEROOS coach Ange Postecoglou's mantra of picking in-form players with an eye to the future - whether they are starring at home or abroad - was highly evident in his selection of Nathan Burns for the upcoming Asian Cup.
Wellington striker Burns has taken the A-League by storm so far this season with 10 goals - three in front of Brisbane's Henrique and Perth's Andy Keogh on the top-scorers' list.
The 26-year-old demanded selection after his two-goal performance against Sydney FC on Sunday.
"I've known Nathan for a very long time and I coached him at under-17 (Socceroos) level. I always knew he had the ability, and I think he's the type of player fitting in with what we're doing, but his form has been compelling," Postecoglou said.
"It was the same with Adam Taggart last year. If you're a striker and you're scoring goals, that's pretty compelling in getting you into the team.
"We were keen to get him (Burns) into the Japan game - he just wasn't physically ready for that. But it's been great to see him continue his good form.
"He's been excellent and I'm looking forward to getting him into camp."
Postecoglou included seven A-League players in the squad that includes 16 survivors from the World Cup.
Along with Burns, Terry Antonis, Eugene Galekovic, Tomi Juric, Matt McKay, Mark Milligan and Matthew Spiranovic all made the squad from the Australian domestic competition.
"This will be Terry Antonis's first go at it, and there are other young players in there who have been given experience over the last six to 12 months who I think are going to form our core going forward," Postecoglou said.
"But we still needed some experience, and the likes of Mile (Jedinak) and Timmy (Cahill) and Bresh (Mark Bresciano) will provide that, and Matt McKay and Mark Milligan."
Postecoglou said he still wanted to blood Wanderers striker Juric, despite his slow start to this A-League season.
"Tomi is one we've been keen to get involved. We had him for a couple of camps and then he missed a couple through injury, but he's another one that maybe is an eye to the future," Postecoglou said.
"He doesn't have the same sort of form as Nathan Burns, but we're picking a tournament-specific team.
"I think going into a tournament the more attacking options you have (the better) - going back to the World Cup it was an area we were pretty limited."
Postecoglou said despite his team slipping to a lowest-ever world ranking of 102 last month, the Socceroos were aiming to win their first Asian Cup, and the first of its kind on Australian soil.
Meanwhile, Sydney FC defender and Socceroo representative Sasa Ognenovski was yesterday been ruled out for the remainder of this A-League season.
Ognenovski sustained a hip complaint against the Melbourne Victory in round six, which was subsequently diagnosed as an injury to the lateral cutaneous nerve of the thigh.
The Socceroos will kick off the Asian Cup against Kuwait in Melbourne on January 9.
Australia's Asian Cup squad: Terry Antonis, Aziz Behich, Mark Bresciano, Nathan Burns, Tim Cahill, Jason Davidson, Ivan Franjic, Eugene Galekovic (gk), Chris Herd, Mile Jedinak, Tomi Juric, Robbie Kruse, Mitchell Langerak (gk), Mathew Leckie, Massimo Luongo, Matt McKay, Mark Milligan, Tommy Oar, Mat Ryan (gk), Trent Sainsbury, Matthew Spiranovic, James Troisi, Alex Wilkinson.