Aussie new boy on verge of debut

TWO years ago, Chris Ikonomidis was lining up to grab Socceroo star Tim Cahill's autograph.

The 19-year-old could soon be playing alongside the champion Australian striker after being named by coach Ange Postecoglou in a 23-man Australian squad to face world champions Germany and FYR Macedonia in Europe later this month.

The Socceroos will face Germany at the scene of their memorable 2006 World Cup triumph over Japan - the Fritz-Walter-Stadion, in Kaiserslautern, on March 25.

They will then take on Macedonia at the National Arena Philip II of Macedonia Stadium, in Skopje, five days later.

Ikonomidis is on the verge of a first-team debut with Lazio in Italy's Serie A, scoring 15 goals for the reserves this season.

Postecoglou said it was important the attacking midfielder from Cronulla got some vital experience in his squad, rather than play for the Olyroos later this month in under-23 qualifiers for the 2016 world championships.

"With Chris, I felt 10 days with us will be better for him for his progress rather than going away with the Olyroos," Postecoglou said.

"If he continues to impress like he does and with us going into a World Cup cycle, he's already being inducted into the Socceroos environment."

Eighteen players in the squad featured in January's Asian Cup triumph.

Squad: A Behich, N Burns, T Cahill, J Davidson, L DeVere, T Elrich, A Federici (gk), I Franjic, C Ikonomidis, M Jedinak, T Juric, M Langerak (gk), M Leckie, M Luongo, M McKay, M Milligan, A Mooy, T Oar, M Ryan (gk), T Sainsbury, M Spiranovic, J Troisi, A Wilkinson.

- APN SPORTS BUREAU



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