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McDonald back in favour

Scott McDonald has been included in Holger Osieck’s Australian squad for next week’s friendly against Wales, while Harry Kewell missed out.But while Middlesbrough striker McDonald, who was famously dumped from the Socceroos squad on the eve of the last World Cup and has gone 24 games without scoring for his country, gets another chance, there is no Kewell as he seeks to sort out his club future.

Osieck, speaking on Tuesday, said the short trip from Middlesbrough to Cardiff should put McDonald in the best position to score his maiden international goal.

“I didn’t invite him (McDonald) for the recent games starting in Germany, and at the end of the (Championship) season he had a couple of good moments, scored a couple of good goals,” Osieck said.

“And I want to give him another chance, even logistically, because it’s not a big travel for him so when he comes he should be in good shape and deliver to the team.”

Osieck refused to write off McDonald’s chances of representing Australia should he fail to score in the Wales friendly or in the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

“You can never make a final statement, in football there’s always uncertainties, and what is good today may be bad tomorrow,” he said.

“You should never make a final statement on a player. Today he may not perform well, but you may need him in the next game. I would never say it’s his final chance.”

As for Kewell, Osieck branded the injury-prone striker unfit to play a role in Cardiff, while centre-back and captain Lucas Neill was included as he was match-fit.

“A slight difference between the two (Kewell and Neill) of them: one is fit, and one is not fit. So Lucas is fit, and he did a lot of work. He’s in very good shape, and Harry isn’t,” Osieck said.

“We all know what kind of value Harry brings to the team, we don’t have to discuss it. I’m really hoping he will be in game shape for the qualifier (against Thailand in September).”

Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer and Everton attacker Tim Cahill, who missed the two recent friendlies against Serbia and New Zealand, are back in the fold.

Korean-based defender Luke DeVere has been given his first call-up since early 2010 and could make his debut, while Japan-based Matthew Spiranovic is also called up as Osieck looks to the next generation.

The Socceroos boss hinted Spiranovic would play the full 90 minutes in Cardiff, leaving out centre-back Sasa Ognenovski as the Seongnam Ilhwa defender is still on the comeback trail from injury.

Michael Zullo, James Troisi and Robbie Kruse have also been named, while Matt McKay is the only A-League based player in the squad, with Jason Culina not considered as he regains full fitness.

Australian squad to face Wales: Tim Cahill, Luke DeVere, Brett Emerton, Adam Federici (Gk), Brett Holman, Mile Jedinak, Neil Kilkenny, Robbie Kruse, Scott McDonald, Matt McKay, Lucas Neill, Mark Schwarzer (GK), Matthew Spiranovic, James Troisi, Carl Valeri, Luke Wilkshire, Rhys Williams, Michael Zullo

Article title: McDonald back in favour

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