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The striker who got the Socceroos to the World Cup and looks remarkably like Rio's Christ the Redeemer statue, Josh Kennedy, has been axed from Australia's final 23-man World Cup squad.

Japan-based Kennedy was left out of a training game in Vitoria on Monday due to a back complaint but was believed to have been fine to take his place at a third World Cup tournament. 

But coach Ange Postecoglou has deemed him either too much of a risk or not part of his plans when cutting the final four playing from his squad set to take on Chile, Holland and Spain in the group phase. 

Talented midfielder Tom Rogic is another who won't be there against Chile in the opener, with persistent injuries and a lack of game time rather than talent his shortcoming. 

No surprise was the omission of young goalkeeper Mark Birighitti, who falls victim to the Aussies' riches in the position with Mat Ryan, Mitchell Langerak and Eugene Galekovic the three stoppers to make the cut. 

Bizarrely, veteran Luke Wilkshire is the fourth player to be dumped, despite his significant role in the midfield in recent years. The Russia-based 32-year-old is made for tournaments due to his versatility, but although a favourite of Holger Osieck, hasn't figured in Postecoglou's plans. 

Kennedy scored the goal Australia needed to beat Iraq 1-0 in Sydney last June to qualify for the cup - perhaps his back is worst than has been reported. 

His departure is an opportunity for Adam Taggart, while Massimo Luongo gets a chance in Rogic's absence. 

Luongo spent time with Tottenham's youth programme but now plays in England's third-tier for Swindon Town.

Australia's final 23-man World Cup squad

Goalkeepers: Mat Ryan (Club Brugge), Mitchell Langerak (Borussia Dortmund), Eugene Galekovic (Adelaide United)

Defenders: Ivan Franjic (Brisbane Roar), Jason Davidson (Heracles Almelo), Matthew Spiranovic (Western Sydney Wanderers), Bailey Wright (Preston North End), Alex Wilkinson (Jeonbuk Motors), Ryan McGowan (Shandong Luneng)

Midfielders: Mile Jedinak (Crystal Palace), Mark Milligan (Melbourne Victory), James Holland (Austria Vienna), Massimo Luongo (Swindon Town), Oliver Bozanic (Luzern), Matt McKay (Brisbane Roar), Mark Bresciano (Al-Gharafa)

Attackers: Tim Cahill (New York Red Bulls), Dario Vidosic (Sion), Tommy Oar (FC Utrecht), James Troisi (Melbourne Victory), Ben Halloran (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Adam Taggart (Newcastle Jets), Mathew Leckie (FSV Frankfurt)

Image via Getty


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Veterans Kennedy and Wilkshire axed from final Socceroos World Cup squad
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