Soccer

Neill back with 2 other veterans for Australia

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SYDNEY (AP)

Veterans Lucas Neill, Josh Kennedy and Sasa Ognenovski were recalled to Australia's 26-man squad on Thursday for World Cup Asian qualifying matches in June against Japan, Jordan and Iraq.

Captain Neill was suspended for his side's disappointing 2-2 draw with Oman at Sydney in March, while Kennedy has been out with a back injury and Ognenovski has been on the fringes of coach Holger Osieck's selections.

''Sasa was never off the radar, I always followed his activities, I know what I can get from him, he's very solid,'' Osieck said. ''Josh is back, playing (for Japan's Nagoya Grampus), he's played already seven games, 90 minutes, that's definitely very positive.''

Striker Harry Kewell was not included, although it was expected he would miss out after being cut by his Qatari club last week.

''I had a personal talk with him, and I made my decision clear, and he accepted it,'' Osieck said.

Asked whether it was possible Kewell could return to the team in the future, he said: ''Of course. I assured Harry when he's back to his top level he's always a very important player for the group.''

In addition to veterans Tim Cahill and goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, Osieck also included seven A-League players - Ivan Franjic and Jade North (Brisbane), Eugene Galekovic and Dario Vidosic (Adelaide), Mark Milligan and Archie Thompson (Melbourne Victory) and Michael Thwaite (Perth).

The Socceroos will play Japan on June 4 in Saitama, Japan; Jordan on June 11 in Melbourne and Iraq on June 18 in Sydney.

Australia is in third place in Group B and needs strong results from its remaining three matches to secure a top-two placing and guarantee automatic qualification for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Osieck said he was optimistic that Australia would qualify directly, despite criticism of the side following the Oman draw.

''I have a feeling, prior to the Oman game, it was like a Sunday afternoon walk,'' Osieck said of his side's over-confidence.

''Only the scoreline had to be discussed, and that was a very dangerous situation. That can have an impact on the players, and the environment around the national team.''

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Australia squad: Mark Bresciano (Al-Gharafa), Alex Brosque (Al-Ain), Tim Cahill (New York Red Bulls), Robbie Cornthwaite (Chunnam Dragons), Ivan Franjic (Brisbane Roar), Eugene Galekovic (Adelaide United), James Holland (Austria Vienna), Brett Holman (Aston Villa), Mile Jedinak (Crystal Palace), Josh Kennedy (Nagoya Grampus), Robbie Kruse (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Mitch Langerak (Borussia Dortmund), Ryan McGowan (Shandong Luneng), Matthew McKay (Changchun Yatai), Mark Milligan (Melbourne Victory), Lucas Neill- captain (Sydney FC), Jade North (Brisbane Roar), Tommy Oar (Utrecht), Sasa Ognenovski (Umm Salal), Tom Rogic (Celtic), Mark Schwarzer (Fulham), Archie Thompson (Melbourne Victory), Michael Thwaite (Perth Glory), Dario Vidosic (Adelaide United), Luke Wilkshire (Dynamo Moscow), Michael Zullo (Utrecht).



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