Reports from Italy have emerged stating that young Lazio winger Chris Ikonomidis is set to get his first call-up to the senior Australian squad for the friendlies against Germany and Macedonia on the 25th and 30th of March respectively. The Germany match will take place at the Fritz-Walter-Stadion in Kaiserslautern where Tim Cahill created history by scoring Australia’s first World Cup goal and of course was also the stage for a heartbreaking Round of 16 loss to eventual champions Italy.
Alessandra Russo of mondoprimavera.it reported that “Australian coach Ange Postecoglou has decided to reward the excellent performance” of the nineteen year old. The winger who has scored four goals in his last two games for Lazio’s Primavera (youth) side but has yet to make his senior debut despite being named in the match day squad on three occasions this season.
A tweet from Lazio’s official account two days ago also indicated that Ikonomidis’s Socceroos call up was all but confirmed, with teammate Luis Pedro Cavanda also set to receive a first international selection for Congo after playing for Belgium’s under age sides.
Translated, the latter part of the tweet says “Cavanda and Oikonomidis summoned by national [teams of] Congo and Australia”.
The Lazio management rate Ikonomidis highly and even turned away several suitors in January who were interested in loaning the former Sutherland Shark including fellow Serie A side Genoa, who earmarked the youngster for first team action. Having already been capped for Australia at U20 and U23 level after rejecting advances from Greece, a call up the the Socceroos would literally cap a remarkable twelve months for Ikonomidis.
The Socceroos squad is set to be announced at 11am AEDT tomorrow. Postecoglou stated recently that he would be taking into account the complete World Cup cycle and only bringing in players who were not only in good form but also would be able to give their best at the Russia 2018 World Cup should we qualify, signalling a further regeneration of the player pool.
“It’s about rewarding good form, that’s important in terms of consistent messaging, then seeing where we need to create some depth,” Postecoglou told Australian media.
“The focus will be on this cycle and we want to make sure everyone we select can contribute to this cycle in its entirety.
“That will minimise players who we think potentially might not be able to be at their best next World Cup.”
At nineteen and on the cusp of first team football for a Serie A side pushing for third place, Ikonomidis ticks all the boxes for Postecoglou. It was thought with the Olyroos kicking off their 2016 Olympic qualifying in Taiwan on March 27th that the former Atalanta player would be called up to join the U23s. The Olyroos will take on Hong Kong (March 27th), Chinese Taipei (March 29th), and Myanmar (March 31st) in Group F with the group winners and five best runners up to go into the final stage of qualification next year in Qatar. Having missed out on qualification for the 2012 London Olympics the Australians will be determined to make sure they’re in the South American edition next year.
Football Central was unable to contact Ikonomidis for comment.