An injury replacement call-up, who literally took the long way to the Socceroos' Asian Cup squad, Apostolos Giannou is ready to be Graham Arnold's back-up plan.
Striker Apostolos Giannou has literally taken the long way into the Socceroos' Asian Cup squad.
Overlooked by Graham Arnold in his original 23-man squad for the tournament, Giannou was handed a path back earlier this week as Martin Boyle's injury replacement.
Giannou received the call from Arnold on New Year's Day at his home in Cyprus and quickly headed to the United Arab Emirates.
Arriving around 1:00am on Thursday, Giannou's path to the squad was delayed further when a taxi took him from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, not Al Ain, where the Socceroos are based ahead of their tournament opener on Sunday against Jordan.
Abu Dhabi is a two hour drive from Al Ain.
Giannou eventually arrived at the team hotel, passed a medical and, by Thursday afternoon, was training with the rest of the squad.
It's a long journey for a player Arnold has described as his "plan C" should Australia need to find a path to goal in the dying minutes of a match.
"Something completely different. If we need to play long, if we need to play more direct, if we need a Plan C in the last five minutes of a game," Arnold said of his reason to turn to Giannou.
It's a role the jet-lagged, but relieved, Giannou is happy to take on.
"I'm just happy to be here," Giannou said.
"I'm going to be ready whenever he (Arnold) needs me. Either I'm plan A, B or C - I'm just going to be happy to help out."
Giannou was a feature of Arnold's initial camp as Socceroos coach in September in Turkey and scored in October's 4-0 win over Kuwait.
He missed the subsequent friendlies against South Korea and Lebanon in November in Australia but Arnold said he'd been desperately unlucky not to get picked in December in his original 23-man squad.
"You've got 35 players you've got to cut down to 23 and you've got this guy playing in the Europa League and playing every week and performing well ... it's a difficult decision. He's a great kid," Arnold said.
"As soon as I rang him and said 'listen, we've had this injury - here's your opportunity', and he said 'coach, I'll be there as soon as I can - I'm always here'."
Giannou's call-up further confirms Tomi Juric faces an uphill battle to regain his international place.
A mainstay of Australia's 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign, Juric seemingly lacked the off-the-ball skill set Arnold demands from his players - an aspect the Socceroos' coach says Giannou definitely does not lack.
"He also understands the principles of what we put into the boys from the Turkey camp in September and then the camp in October against Kuwait, so he's spent some time with us."