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Apostolos Giannou called up to Australia squad for Tajikistan, Jordan

Greek-Australian Apostolos Giannou has been named in the Socceroos squad. Ange Postecoglou says the striker offers more than the incumbent Tim Cahill.
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Brisbane livewire Jamie Maclaren was a shock exclusion from the Socceroos team, but the coach implores the Roar striker to keep up his form and selection will be inevitable.
Robbie Kruse has earned a recall to the national team. Ange Postecoglou backs the 27-year old to reach new heights.

Ange Postecoglou's desire to keep pushing the boundaries is behind nine changes to his Socceroos squad for World Cup qualifying matches this month.

Robbie Kruse returns for the first time since the Asian Cup final win 14 months ago, while uncapped trio Apostolos Giannou, Jason Geria and Alex Gersbach give the squad a strong flavour of renewal.

Asian Cup winners Matt McKay, Jason Davidson, Alex Wilkinson, Tommy Oar and James Troisi will miss the World Cup qualifiers with Tajikistan in Adelaide on March 24 and Jordan in Sydney five days later.

Postecoglou said their absence was not permanent, instead born out of a need to create new options.

"If we can get a strong performance in these two games ... it means we are going to be building some real depth and competition for places," he said.

"I think we need to start pushing ahead and that's the reason I've brought some new faces into the squad to keep everyone on their toes.

"There's another level in us and we have to find that.

"We're first in our group and winning both games will mean we finish there and that's important."

In their absence, a host of next-gen bolters get an opportunity.

Brad Smith has been recalled after an 18-month absence and Terry Antonis is back for the first time since the Asian Cup, when he was an unused squad member.

Chris Ikonomidis and Josh Risdon have been given another chance to impress.

Postecoglou is looking forward to the chance to blood Giannou, who played for the Socceroos coach in underage Australian squads before flirting with the country of his birth, Greece.

The 26-year-old has since moved from the Greek league, where he flourished, to the Chinese Super League and Postecoglou has him pinned as an alternative to key striker Tim Cahill.

Gael Kakuta & Apostolos Giannou
Apostolos Giannou, right, recently joined Guangzhou R&F in the Chinese Super League.

"He was born in Greece like me, came to Australia, his parents obviously came here to give opportunities to their kids and he's making the most of it," Postecoglou said.

"The beauty of it is he wants to play for Australia. It's a fantastic story."

Postecoglou said Giannou's emergence cost red-hot Brisbane Roar striker Jamie Maclaren a spot in the squad.

"He was very close," he said. "If [Giannou] was not available for this one we would have brought him in again.

"If he continues his form he will get an opportunity at the right time."

Gersbach, 18, and Geria, 22, are the latest to be given a chance left-back, another national team trouble-spot.

Senior pair Mitchell Langerak and Matthew Spiranovic also return after injury.

Full Socceroos squad: Terry Antonis, Nathan Burns, Tim Cahill, Adam Federici, Jason Geria, Alex Gersbach, Apostolos Giannou, Chris Ikonomidis, Mile Jedinak, Robbie Kruse, Mitchell Langerak, Mathew Leckie, Massimo Luongo, Ryan McGowan, Mark Milligan, Aaron Mooy, Josh Risdon, Tommy Rogic, Mathew Ryan, Trent Sainsbury, Brad Smith, Matthew Spiranovic, Bailey Wright.

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