McDonald cut from Australia WC squad

Striker Scott McDonald was a surprise omission as Australia trimmed its World Cup squad from 31 to 28 players on Tuesday.

Middlesbrough striker McDonald, Crystal Palace midfielder Nick Carle and Norway-based defender Jade North were those culled from the squad.

McDonald, who played in Monday's 2-1 friendly win over New Zealand, had been a prolific goalscorer in the Scottish league before moving to England, but is yet to score in 16 matches for Australia. Instead, Belgian-based Nikita Rukavytsya and Josh Kennedy were earmarked as the back-up strikers to Galatasaray forward Harry Kewell.

Australia coach Pim Verbeek said McDonald struggled in the Socceroos' preferred lone striker system.

"Scotty is a typical two-striker player, and that's where he feels happy also," Verbeek said.

"But we don't play with two strikers. We play with one striker up top and wingers, so Scotty doesn't fit in this system. He knows it, and he tried everything."

The core of Australia's squad is made up of veterans of the 2006 World Cup, headline by Kewell, clubmate Lucas Neill, Everton's Tim Cahill, Palermo's Mark Bresciano and Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.

Verbeek said players who did not make his final squad of 23, which will be named on June 1, would be kept on in South Africa for the duration of the World Cup. Youngsters Tommy Oar and James Holland are unlikely to make the final 23 but had been chosen for the sake of experience.

Australia leaves on Wednesday for a pre-World Cup training camp in Johannesburg. The team will play friendlies against Denmark on June 1 and the United States on June 5 ahead of its opening World Cup group match against Germany in Durban on June 13.


Australian squad: Goalkeepers: Mark Schwarzer (Fulham), Adam Federici (Reading), Brad Jones (Middlesbrough), Eugene Galekovic (Adelaide United). Defenders: Scott Chipperfield (Basel), David Carney (Twente), Lucas Neill (Galatasaray), Michael Beauchamp (Melbourne Heart), Shane Lowry (Aston Villa), Craig Moore (unattached), Mark Milligan (JEF United), Rhys Williams (Middlesbrough), Luke Wilkshire (Dynamo Moscow). Midfielders: Vince Grella (Blackburn), Carl Valeri (Sassuolo), Jason Culina (Gold Coast), Mile Jedinak (Antalyaspor), Tim Cahill (Everton), Brett Holman (AZ Alkmaar), Dario Vidosic (Nuremberg), Mark Bresciano (Palermo), Brett Emerton (Blackburn), Richard Garcia (Hull), James Holland (AZ Alkmaar), Tommy Oar (Utrecht). Strikers: Nikita Rukavytsya (Twente), Josh Kennedy (Nagoya Grampus), Harry Kewell (Galatasaray).