Leeds United’s Kilkenny gets Australian call up

Sydney: Leeds United midfielder Neil Kilkenny has been recalled to the Australian football team for next month’s Asian Cup finals in Qatar.

Kilkenny last played for Australia against China in 2008 but was named today along with two uncapped players in coach Holger Osieck’s 23-man squad for the January 7 to 29 tournament.

Striker Robbie Kruse, who plays for the Melbourne Victory in Australia’s A-League, won his first international call up along with Denmark-based goalkeeper Nathan Coe. Kruse has scored 10 goals in 15 A-League matches this season and replaces regular striker Josh Kennedy who has a back injury.

He was one of four A-League players named in the squad, along with Matt McKay of Brisbane, Jason Culina of Gold Coast and Jade North of Wellington.

Osieck has also been able to call on his big guns, Everton’s Tim Cahill, Galatasaray teammates Lucas Neill and Harry Kewell, Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer and Middlesbrough forward Scott McDonald.

AEK Athens striker Nathan Burns was also included but defender Ersan Gulum was omitted, indicating his international future may lie with Turkey.

Veteran defender Sasa Ognenovski was named after making his debut in last month’s friendly against Egypt, capping a season in which he led Korean club Seongnam Ilhwa to the Asian Champions League title and was named Asian player of the year.

Jon McKain and Matthew Spiranovic have been favored in defensive spots ahead of A-League candidates Michael Thwaite and Michael Beauchamp.

Australia will play a friendly against the United Arab Emirates at Al Ain on January 5 before heading to Doha for their Asian Cup opener against India on January 10.

Australian squad: Nathan Burns, Tim Cahill, David Carney, Nathan Coe, Jason Culina, Brett Emerton, Richard Garcia, Brett Holman, Mile Jedinak, Brad Jones, Harry Kewell, Neil Kilkenny, Robbie Kruse, Scott McDonald, Jon McKain, Matt McKay, Lucas Neill, Jade North, Sasa Ognenovski, Mark Schwarzer, Matthew Spiranovic, Carl Valeri, Luke Wilkshire.

Bureau Report