DIMI Petratos is back in the picture, just not in the team.
Newcastle’s talismanic midfielder was one of four A-League players – along with Rhyan Grant (Sydney), Craig Goodwin (Adelaide) and Thomas Deng (Melbourne Victory) – named as train-on players for the Socceroos’ games against South Korea on Saturday night and Lebanon on November 20.
Australia coach Graham Arnold named a 23-player squad for both friendlies but wants Petratos and company to join the training camp “to show what they can do” in the lead-up to the Asian Cup tournament in January.
It's understood the quartet will not be considered for Saturday’s game at Suncorp Stadium, but Arnold might re-jig his squad for the Lebanon game, particularly if there are any injuries.
He will also have to find a place for retiring veteran Tim Cahill, who will make a brief cameo in what has been billed as his farewell match at ANZ Stadium.
Petratos debuted for the Socceroos last season but did not play a game in their 2018 World Cup campaign.
He was overlooked for selection for the 4-0 win against Kuwait last month, Arnold’s first match in charge since replacing Bert van Marwijck.
The 25-year-old opened the season with a typically clinical goal in Newcastle’s 2-1 loss against Wellington, and won’t get a better chance to remind Arnold of his ability than on Saturday, when the Jets host competition leaders Sydney FC at McDonald Jones Stadium.
Seven of his career tally of 31 A-League goals have been scored against Sydney, including two in three games last season.
“I've been out and watched a lot of A-League games since I've been back and I think the standard has been fantastic,” Arnold said.
“They will be watched and watched carefully.”
Naturally Goodwin caught the coach’s eye, having scored eight goals in seven appearances across all competitions for Adelaide this season.
He banged in four goals last week, including a double in the FFA Cup final over Sydney FC.
"He gives us something different as he's really the only left-footed left winger we have," Arnold said of Goodwin.
"Craig is a great example of work hard, perform well, play well in the A-League and you'll get recognised and you'll get rewarded.”
Petratos’ former Newcastle teammate, Andrew Nabbout, is back in the national squad after recently returning from a dislocated shoulder he suffered during the World Cup.
Nabbout joined Japanese club Urawa Red Diamonds from Newcastle midway through last season.
Arnold needs to find a strike weapon capable of replacing teenager Daniel Arzani, who will be sidelined long-term after tearing the anterior-cruciate ligament in his knee on debut for Scottish Premier League heavyweights Celtic.
"We'll make sure Daniel is well looked after ... we're there for him to rehab him,” Arnold said. “If there's any way we can get him back here to help with that, we will."
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