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The next generation of Socceroos stars ready to shine for Australia at World Cup 2022 in Qatar

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Half of the Socceroos’ 26-man squad for World Cup 2022 has 10 international caps or less as Graham Arnold attempts to bring through a new generation of talent.

Can these young stars help Australia achieve a shock result in Qatar with a tough group featuring France, Denmark and Tunisia?

The Sporting News runs through some of the less familiar names in the green and gold team.

MORE: Socceroos World Cup squad: Australia’s 26-man team and possible starting side for Qatar 2022

Garang Kuol (Central Coast Mariners – Australia)

Despite being yet to start a senior football at club or international level, Kuol is arguably the best talent seen come out of Australia in a long time.

The 18-year-old will join Premier League side Newcastle United after the World Cup in January, but had been wowing Australians with his performances off the bench for A-League Men’s side Central Coast Mariners.

His strike against Macarthur on November 13 just before jetting off for Qatar was world-class. 

Kuol is a lightning-quick attacker who can play through the middle, but is most likely to be used on the wing as a substitute during the World Cup – much the same as Daniel Arzani was used at World Cup 2018.

He has displayed clinical finishing, an ability to beat a man, incredible acceleration and the desire to press and win the ball off the opposition.

Expect plenty of exciting moments when he introduced off the bench in Qatar.

Harry Souttar (Stoke City – England)

The gigantic defender – who stands at 201cm tall – has been an absolute revelation at centre-half for Australia, scoring six goals from 10 appearances with his height causing havoc in the penalty area.

Scottish-born Souttar was convinced to play for Socceroos in 2019 before his country of birth right as he started to make a name for himself at current club Stoke City in the Championship.

The 24-year-old sadly suffered an ACL knee injury 12 months ago but has returned in time to appear for the Socceroos in Qatar.

If fit, Souttar is likely to start at centre-half but question marks hover over whether he has had enough minutes – having only played 90 minutes for Stoke this season.

MORE: Socceroos World Cup 2022 hub

Kye Rowles (Hearts – Scotland)

Centre-back Rowles has been an absolute bolter for Australia in 2022 after only receiving his first cap in a June friendly against Jordan.

He subsequently started both playoffs against UAE and Peru, impressing enough to lay a marker down to be first choice at World Cup 2022.

The 24-year-old is another Aussie at Hearts in Scotland, where he has established himself as a starting centre-half, even scoring a goal and nabbing an assist.

Rowles was shown a straight red after 75 minutes in his last Hearts match against Livingston.

Riley McGree (Middlesbrough – England)

With the absence of Tom Rogic in the Socceroos squad, McGree is likely to be competing with Ajdin Hrustic for the No.10 role in the team.

There is currently an injury cloud over Hrustic, so McGree is a chance to start and he will definitely get minutes during the tournament.

The 24-year-old has been in great form for Championship side Middlesbrough – even scoring this worldie goal before the World Cup break. 

McGree isn’t the most technically gifted No.10, but he works hard, provides energy, gets into dangerous positions and scores goal.

Jason Cummings (Central Coast Mariners – Australia)

The ‘Cumdog’ was considered an outsider to make the squad but in the end was squeezed in at the expense of Adam Taggart.

Scottish-born Cummings has banged in 12 goals and nine assists in 25 matches since joining Central Coast Mariners last year.

His only appearance for Australia against New Zealand in September saw him score, an achievement he promised if he was selected.

Many critics want Cummings to start for the green and gold but he is likely to be a back-up to Jamie Maclaren and Mitchell Duke – at least at first.

Jason Cummings Graham Arnold Socceroos

Nathaniel Atkinson (Hearts – Scotland)

Atkinson has become an integral part of Scottish club Hearts team over the last two seasons as right-back, after developing at A-League Men side Melbourne City.

The 23-year-old was quite often used as winger through the early stages of his career, which means he is an attacking full-back, who loves to get forward to assist or score.

Like the left-back role, Atkinson will be in a tight tussle with Fran Karacic and possibly Thomas Deng for the right-back position in Qatar.

Cameron Devlin (Hearts – Scotland)

Another slightly surprising addition to the Socceroos team, Devlin is another Australian to be a starter at Hearts in Scotland.

After failing to make the grade at Sydney FC, Devlin made a name for himself with Wellington Phoenix before spending the last two seasons in Scotland.

The 24-year-old is a defensive midfielder of small stature but he is adept at putting pressure on opposition and intercepting the ball.

Devlin also possesses a quality range of passing that can help drive a team forward.

With Australia having a lack of defensive midfield options, Devlin could see a decent amount of game time in Qatar.

Cameron Devlin Hearts

Thomas Deng (Albirex Niigata – Japan)

The versatile defender, who can play both centre-half and right-back – impressed at the back in Australia’s last match against New Zealand.

Deng will be playing in the J-League next season after earning promotion as J-League 2 champions with Albirex Niigata.

The 25-year-old was the leader of a miserly defence that only conceded 35 goals in 42 league matches.

He is likely to be a backup in Qatar but could be used across a variety of positions.

MORE: Socceroos World Cup schedule | Socceroos World Cup jerseys revealed

Joel King (OB – Denmark)

After developing at Sydney FC, King has emerged as an extremely reliable left-back option for his nation.

His four appearances for the green and gold have all been solid performances as he brings defensive solidarity and steady attack to the position.

The only downside is the 22-year-old earned a move from the A-League Men to Danish side Odense BK and after starting as first-choice, he is currently in a battle to get minutes.

Aziz Behich is likely to be starting left-back at the World Cup but King won’t be far behind.


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