While the Socceroos end an 18-month wait for international football next week, for four members of Graham Arnold’s World Cup qualifiers squad the wait has been even longer.
Included in the 31-man group for matches against Kuwait, Taiwan, Nepal and Jordan are a trio of forgotten ex-Socceroos in Nikita Rukavytsya, James Holland and Curtis Good.
Arnold has also selected fullback Fran Karacic, the ex-Croatia under-21 representative who declared for Australia before the 2018 World Cup but failed to make the cut for that tournament.
For Holland and Good, the qualifiers are their first taste of international football since 2014.
Good debuted against Ecuador ahead of that year’s World Cup in Brazil but suffered a hip injury in that match, ruling him out of the tournament.
That game remains the 28-year-old defender’s solitary appearance after a four-year injury nightmare.
Holland was an unused member of the 2014 World Cup squad, making the last of his 15 previous Socceroos appearances in a goalless draw against the UAE later that year.
The final player to come in from the international wilderness is 33-year-old forward Rukavytsya, who last played for his country in 2018 but has become impossible to ignore any longer after a prolific spell with Israeli club Maccabi Haifa.
In 173 appearances for Maccabi, Rukavytsya has scored 73 goals and Arnold says his form – as well as that of Good, Holland and Karacic – had earned them a return to the green and gold.
“Fran Karacic, playing every weekend with Brescia in Serie B in Italy, doing fantastic … what better way to welcome him to the Socceroos than being in this camp?,” Arnold said.
“James Holland, doing very well at Lask, brings a lot of experience. We’ve got a quite a young midfield if you look at it with (Riley) McGree, Connor Metcalfe and (Denis) Genreau, Kenny Dougall, so, we needed some experience in there.
“It’s a well deserved reward for him and Nikita Rukavytsya, scoring goals galore in Israel … selection for the Socceroos is based around performance, not around loyalty in a way, but around performance.
“All these players been picked on their great form.”
Australia resume their World Cup 2022 qualifying campaign on June 3 (0430 AEST, June 4) against Kuwait at the Jaber Al-Hamed Stadium.