Socceroos door opens again for in-form Elder

Callum Elder in action for Wigan Athletic Source: Sportimage/PA Images

It’s a case of take two for Callum Elder, with the uncapped Hull City defender poised to be called up for Australia’s FIFA World Cup qualifier against Jordan in Amman next month.

Elder, 24, was on the brink of selection for the recent duels against Nepal and Taiwan, only to be ruled out with a calf injury.

However, the ex-Leicester City rookie continues to impress in the Championship with the Tigers - alongside established Socceroo Jackson Irvine - and is likely to be unveiled in coach Graham Arnold’s 23-man squad for the November 15 clash next week.

The Sydney-born Australia under-20 representative spent six years at Leicester without making a single first team appearance for the Premier League side.

He spent time on loan at six lower league teams before his permanent move to Humberside in August.

Elder made a crucial goal-line block in the weekend’s 2-0 win over Derby in his fourth start of an injury-interrupted season and could provide further competition in a position currently held by Aziz Behich, with Brad Smith and Alex Gersbach already snapping at his heels.

Arnold is also ready to recall Josh Risdon - first choice right back at Russia 2018 - to add cover for incumbent Rhyan Grant for a tricky tussle against a Jordan side which has twice in recent years beaten Australia in World Cup qualifiers in the Middle East.

Risdon, who has 14 caps, has made a promising start to the season with new club Western United, after previous stints at Perth Glory and Western Sydney Wanderers.

Referring to Elder, Arnold said: “The fact is the kid is playing every week and is doing well at Hull City.
“We are watching him closely. He was on the extended list for the last camp but he got injured. However he’s on the extended list again.

“He’s just another great option for us at left-back.”

Stopper Trent Sainsbury, an absentee earlier this month through injury, is also expected to return to the fold as he picks up match fitness with his new club Maccabi Haifa.

And Celtic’s Tom Rogic, given a leave pass to get married ahead of the thumping wins over Nepal and Taiwan, will also be available after his stellar showing in the 4-0 hammering of Aberdeen.

“I’ve got 30 players to fit into 23 and some tough selections to make,” added Arnold.

Arnold added that he was also tracking the progress of Gold Coast-raised Livingston striker Lyndon Dykes who has scored three goals in seven appearances for the SPL club this season, including one in a 2-0 win over Celtic.

“We’ve got our eye on him. Rene Meulensteen (Arnold’s assistant) has been to watch him. There’s nobody we’re not looking at.”

With hot-streak striker Jamie Maclaren out for at least a month with a hamstring injury, Dykes - who is also eligible for Scotland - might possibly come into contention for Jordan. 

“We respect all opposition,” said Arnold in reference to the side sitting two points behind leaders Australia in Group B.

“We’ve got four or five days together and the full focus will be on ourselves and our performance and making sure we’re mentally ready for the game, and we will be.

“The first year of me being in this job was all about creating competition for places and creating depth.

“You’d sort of wish that was already done, at junior national team level and such like, but it wasn’t.

“So I’ve had to do that and I do believe that I’ve got two or three very good players for each position.

“They know they have players breathing down their necks who are performing week-in week-out for their clubs, which is important.

“We have players playing a lot of minutes, which is great and we go into this Jordan game with a lot of confidence and belief that we’ll continue on our journey of doing well, which we’ve done over the last couple of camps.”