With seven goals in 14 A-League Men appearances for Melbourne Victory this season – seven of which have come off the bench – D’Agostino’s pace, penetration and finishing panache have propelled him to the brink of a first call in senior team.
D’AGOSTINO CLAIMS A COLL-UP
- Melbourne Victory in-form striker Nick D’Agostino is in the running for a surprise call-up to this month’s World Cup qualifiers against Japan and Saudi Arabia.
- The ex-Olyroo has impressed Graham Arnold with his A-League exploits this season.
- With Australia looking for reinforcements up front, D’Agostino could provide some missing depth.
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It was Arnold who brought the former Perth Glory predator into the fold of Olyroos, where he played second fiddle to Mitch Duke at the Tokyo Games last year.
Arnold was forced to cast the net wide with nominal first-choice number nine Adam Taggart still recovering from knee surgery and current pivot Jamie Maclaren only available for Samurai Blue’s March 24 visit to Stadium Australia.
His long-awaited marriage to partner Iva is stymied by the trip to Riyadh five days later, with the Melbourne City striker given a free pass by Arnold.
Winger Mat Leckie, who can also be deployed in the centre, is currently struggling with a groin injury while Israel-based striker Nikita Rukavystya is unavailable.
All of which leads to the man known as the Daggers entering the fray.
Perhaps prescient, he has a history of crucial interventions for his country – including scoring the lone goal in Australia’s 1-0 win over Uzbekistan two years ago that sealed qualification for Tokyo .
But it was D’Agostino’s clinical form for Victory this season – three goals in just his last two appearances – that sparked Arnold’s interest.
A super substitute turned starter in recent weeks, D’Agostino, 24, is starting to deliver on the promise that persuaded Tony Popovic to reunite with him in Melbourne after their previous collaboration in Perth.
Brimming with conviction and energy, the muscular favorite could bring another dimension to Arnold whose strike action looks exhausted ahead of two games Australia must win to automatically qualify for Qatar 2022 and dodge the perils of the playoffs.
The fifth-ranked South American nation would ultimately stand in the way of the Socceroos in June for a place in the world showpiece, assuming they beat third-placed Group A team, which appears to be the United Arab Emirates, first.
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