SYDNEY (AP) — Veteran Dynamo Moscow defender Luke Wilkshire was one of four players cut by coach Ange Postecoglou as Australia reduced its squad to 23 players for the World Cup.
Wilkshire, a 32-year-old right back who played for Australia at both the 2006 and 2010 tournaments, did not figure in Postecoglou's plans since the new coach replaced Holger Osieck in November.
"A whole range of things — balance of squad, individual, condition they're in, how they respond to training," Postecoglou told Australian Associated Press about Wilkshire being dropped. "Was he unlucky? Yes, but so were others. Someone has to miss out."
In a statement Tuesday from the team's training base in Vitoria, Brazil, Football Federation Australia also said veteran striker Josh Kennedy and young playmaker Tom Rogic were cut for injury-related reasons — Japan-based Kennedy with a back ailment and Rogic with a groin injury.
The fourth player cut was Newcastle Jets goalkeeper Mark Birighitti.
The 21-year-old Rogic, considered to be one of the best young stars in Australian football, was substituted at halftime during Australia's 2-0 win over local side Parana Clube on Monday.
The Australia coaching staff had been monitoring the fitness of Rogic, who played the last half of the A-League season with Melbourne Victory on loan from Scottish club Celtic.
Kennedy's omission means that young Newcastle Jets striker Adam Taggart will get a chance to play in Brazil as Tim Cahill's understudy. Taggart scored 16 goals to lead the A-League last season.
Birighitti's omission was no surprise. Australia's first-choice goalkeeper is Mat Ryan with the German-based Mitch Langerak and Adelaide United's Eugene Galekovic to back him up.
However, Birighitti is likely to stay in Brazil because of concerns over Langerak, who has a knee injury. Australia can make late changes, only through injury, until 24 hours before its opening match against Chile in Cuiaba on June 13.
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