Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou has given a shock call up to 19-year-old Chris Ikonomidis for this month’s friendly matches against world champions Germany and FYR Macedonia.
Ikonomidis is on the books of Italian giants Lazio and has impressed with their youth team over the last 12 months, but has yet to make his senior debut for the Serie A club.
The two matches will be Australia’s first since being crowned champions of Asia with an extra-time 2-1 victory over South Korea in January.
Postecoglou has largely stuck with the squad that achieved success at the Asian Cup, but has continued to experiment by giving call ups to Tarek Elrich, Luke DeVere, Aaron Mooy and Adam Federici.
Postecoglou was forced into some changes with Chris Herd and Robbie Kruse out injured after picking up injuries at the Asian Cup, while Mark Bresciano has announced his international retirement.
“This squad rewards the players who did a marvellous job in claiming the Asian Cup,” Postecoglou said. “Winning the Asian Cup was a great reward for the hard work the players put in but we have been pretty consistent in our approach that the Asian Cup win is the start of a journey, not the end.
“The games in Europe offer an opportunity for the likes of DeVere, Elrich, Mooy, Federici and young Chris Ikonomidis. We continue to have one eye on the four-year World Cup cycle and these players have an opportunity to show us how they’ll handle the step up to international level.”
The two matches will be Australia’s last before qualifying begins in June for the 2018 FIFA World Cup and 2019 AFC Asian Cup.
“We need to continue our development as we move forward from the Asian Cup victory and look towards the 2018 World Cup,” Postecoglou said. “These two matches will offer us another test and will be a good indication of what is required to take the next step.”