THE Olyroos’ preparations are in disarray with a host of European clubs set to block their players from January’s Rio 2016 qualifying tournament.
Gun midfielder Jackson Irvine (Ross County) and defender Milos Degenek (1860 Munich) are understood to have been ruled out by their clubs, while Liverpool is expected to thwart Brad Smith from playing having recently broke into the Reds’ squad.
A number of other euro-based players are expected to be ruled out with the Qatar based qualifiers outside the FIFA international window, meaning overseas clubs are not obliged to release players.
A-League clubs must release players under Football Federation Australia rules, however a chunk of the squad is struggling for regular minutes domestically.
The loss of Irvine, who recently played for the Socceroos and has worn the Olyroos armband, and Degenek, who’s playing regularly in Germany’s second tier, are big blows for coach Aurelio Vidmar.
Chris Ikonomides, who made his first start for Lazio in the Europa League last week, Adam Taggart, who has just ended his loan spell at Dundee United from Fulham, Josh Brillante (Como), Daniel De Silva (Roda JC) and Jordan Lyden, who was due to debut for Aston Villa on Sunday night, could also face resistance from their clubs.
The Olyroos open their qualifiers against the United Arab Emirates on January 14, before facing Vietnam (January 17) and Jordan (January 20), before the knockout phase starts.
Only the top three qualify for the Rio Olympics from the 16-team tournament.
Ange Postecoglou has blooded a number of Under 23 players into the Socceroos recently and will be keeping close tabs on the January qualifiers.
“There’s certainly a few players I’ll be looking at giving some opportunities to in March and June. The bulk of the opportunities will come from players who perform well in that competition,’’ Postecoglou said.
“They’ve got a great opportunity to show what they’ve got in a tough competition. Anyone who steps up in that will be knocking on the door of the national team.”
A-League clubs have privately expressed concern at regularly losing players for Olyroos camps in recent months, with Melbourne Victory regularly robbed of four players.
Left-back Scott Galloway is among the players whose international trips have affected his A-League status.
“In terms of club football it hasn’t helped their continuity, they’ve had a lot of commitments and hopefully in January they get repaid for that in qualifying games,’’ Muscat said.
“Of course it has affected their club football. Knowing they’re not going to be here in January and being away every international break has been hard for them, and hasn’t helped.
“Going to the Olympics is a nice milestone and we wouldn’t begrudge any players that opportunity.
“From my perspective it’s been a very difficult for our boys in the Olympic team, they’ve had a helluva lot of commitments.’’