Socceroos head coach Graham Arnold said he received a phone call from Alexander Robertson reiterating his commitment to Australia amid speculation over his international future.
There have been questions over Robertson’s future after some on social media noticed the young gun had deleted photos of him playing for the Socceroos on his Instagram as Arnold’s Australia prepare for the AFC Asian Cup.
It came after the 20-year-old midfielder – who is also eligible to represent Scotland, Peru and England after playing for the Green and Gold in friendlies against Ecuador and Argentina last year, was not called up for the Asian Cup in Qatar with an eye on the Olyroos.
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Initially asked about Robertson – on loan at Portsmouth from Premier League champions Manchester City – ahead of Australia’s pre-Asian Cup friendly against Bahrain in Abu Dhabi on Sunday (AEDT), Arnold replied: “You should know not to listen to social media.”
When pressed to clarify Robertson’s commitment to the Socceroos, Arnold added: “Well, he rang me two days ago. He told me that he was playing for Australia.”
The Socceroos will meet Bahrain before facing India in their Asian Cup opener on January 13.
Arnold revealed captain Mat Ryan will not play against Bahrain, while debutant full-back Gethin Jones is set to be handed his first start.
“I need to see him in a game with where he needs to connect with the players. He obviously hasn’t played with the boys before,” Arnold said of former Wales youth international Jones, who plays for Bolton Wanderers in England’s League One.
“That will probably be the only real surprise you will see. There are a few players who need some match minutes who haven’t played in recent weeks like Mitch Duke in Japan.
“But made, I have 26 very good players here and already get headaches on who to start and not to start. Everyone has turned up fit and ready to go.”
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Ryan fractured his cheekbone recently, while Adelaide United goalkeeper Joe Gauci and Western Sydney Wanderers counterpart Lawrence Thomas were also included in the Asian Cup squad.
“Maty is out for this one, but he is doing full training,” Arnold said.
“Again it’s a question if something happens to Maty – what’s next or who’s next? We’ve had a retirement in that position in Danny Vukovic. Andrew Redmayne is at an age where he might not make the next World Cup, so we need to look to the future.”
The Socceroos won the 2015 Asian Cup under Ange Postecoglou on home soil before reaching the 2019 quarter-finals with Arnold at the helm.
Arnold’s men, who qualified for the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup round of 16, will also go head-to-head with Syria and Uzbekistan in Group B.
“We’re here to win the Asian Cup,” he said. “As I said to the boys, once every four years you get this chance.
“Twice every four years you get two chances to play in major tournaments. When you got those major tournaments, you have to go with the expectations to win it otherwise we’re wasting our time.
“I believe we have a strong, balanced squad. I expect us to do well.”