Rukavytsya, Holland on cusp of Socceroos recalls for World Cup hub

Exiled Socceroos Nikita Rukavytsya and James Holland Source: Getty Images

Exiled Socceroos Nikita Rukavytsya and James Holland are in line to return from the international boondocks, as Graham Arnold prepares to unveil an extended squad for next month’s FIFA World Cup hub in Kuwait.

The news is not so good for uncapped Hull City left-back Callum Elder, who has suffered a knee ligament injury playing for the League One champions at the weekend, and is set to be scratched.

Late-blooming goal machine Rukavytsya, who turns 34 in June, hasn’t been seen in a Socceroos shirt in nearly three-and-a-half years.

But his stunning strike rate for champions elect Maccabi Haifa in the Israeli Premier League has made him impossible to ignore any longer.

The Ukraine-born, Perth-raised, marksman - whose last cap came against Honduras in November 2017 - has struck 17 goals in 25 games this season, adding to his 22 in 36 appearances the previous year.

He’ll join a familiar attacking cast of Adam Taggart, Jamie Maclaren and Apostolos Giannou, with Western Sydney Wanderers’ fulcrum Mitchell Duke also likely to receive a recall.

Austria-based midfielder Holland gets his chance as an injury replacement for James Jeggo, who has been ruled out of the clashes against Kuwait, Nepal, Taiwan and Jordan after sustaining a foot injury playing for Greek Super League high-fliers Aris.

Holland, 31, has been a model of consistency since joining LASK in 2017, and has been hammering on the door for some time.

His last call-up came in 2014 at the World Cup in Brazil, though he didn’t end up playing a single minute.

By his own admission, the perpetual motion No.6, who made his first impression with the Newcastle Jets as a teenager, hasn’t produced his most compelling football in the 15 games he’s played for Australia.

But the Middle East offers a pathway to redemption.

It’s understood Sydney FC defender Ryan McGowan, who played all three group games at Brazil 2014 but hasn’t featured since 2017, is also in consideration for a comeback, with Arnold looking to bring in three players for every position.

Croatia-born Fran Karacic, who trained with Australia ahead of Russia 2018 but didn’t make the cut, is likely to get lucky this time.

The right-back has made 15 appearances for Brescia this season in Italy’s Serie B, with his team making it to the promotion play-offs.