The only man certain of heading to Brazil with the Socceroos is boss Ange Postecoglou.
In a message likely to buoy fringe players and worry those stuck on the sidelines at their clubs, Postecoglou was clear about how many had booked their place on the plane to June’s World Cup.
“I reckon just me at this stage, there’s still 23 up for grabs,” he said.
If there was any doubt that veteran Socceroos Lucas Neill and Mark Bresciano needed to end uncertainty around their club future, this was it.
Postecoglou emphasised the need for players to be in competitive action in the lead-up to the World Cup, where the Socceroos could play as few as two matches before they leave for Brazil.
“The Costa Rica camp certainly gave me a decent idea of what I want it (the squad) to look like, there’s still a lot of football to be played,” he said.
“Form and health and fitness are going to be paramount,” he said.
“I’m casting the net wide and narrowing it from there rather than the other way around.”
Turmoil at national captain Neill’s J-League club Omiya Ardija has left him on the sidelines, while Bresciano is currently appealing a FIFA ban for an illegal transfer.
The FFA is currently working on opponents for the national team for a date in March – likely to be against European or South American opposition in Europe – and a farewell game in Australia in May.
FFA chief executive David Gallop revealed the Socceroos’ early start to the tournament – their first match against Chile falls on June 13, the day after the Cup opener – will limit the squad’s time in Australia.
Postecoglou inferred a balancing act was in play between performance at the World Cup and the 2015 Asian Cup on home soil just six months later.
“My brief is pretty simple: we want to pick the best team to give us the best outcome in Brazil and beyond,” he said.
“There’s always going to be an emphasis on making sure we’ve got a strong team for the next few years.”
Postecoglou will head to Europe in January, criss-crossing the continent to see as many Australian players under consideration as he can.
“There’s plenty to do, that’s one thing that did dawn on me coming back (from Brazil),” he said.
“We don’t have a lot of games but we certainly have a lot to do.”