Socceroos call up 17-year-old sensation Nestory Irankunda for Ecuador friendlies

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<span>Photograph: Sarah Reed/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Sarah Reed/Getty Images

Nestory Irankunda could become the youngest Socceroo in history after the Adelaide United teenager was promoted to Graham Arnold’s squad proper ahead of two home friendlies against Ecuador.

Irankunda, who turned 17 in February, has set the A-League Men alight this season with his precocious talent in the front third, particularly his penchant to strike from a tight angle and follow goals with a triple somersault celebration.

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While yet to start a senior match, Carl Veart has been utilising the youngster as an impact substitute – mostly on the right wing – to great effect, yielding three goals from his past four games.

Arnold initially brought Irankunda into his 26-man squad as a train-on player with a view to easing him into the senior environment without too much pressure.

But he revealed on Thursday that Riley McGree has been ruled out of Friday’s opening fixture at CommBank Stadium after the Middlesbrough midfielder caught a virus en route to Australia.

“Riley McGree’s out – not from both games just the first one,” Arnold said. “He caught a bit of a bug on the flight coming across. We only just saw him for the first time this morning. He’s had the flu and and those types of things. So that gives Nestor the chance to be in the 26-man squad, and we’ll see how the game goes.”

Should Irankunda be handed his first cap he would be younger than Australia’s youngest international debutant to date, Duncan Cummings, who was 17 years and 139 days when when debuted against China in 1975.

It is not outside the realms of possibility, either, given the impression he has made in camp in Sydney, with striker Mitchell Duke describing him as “a freak”.

“Nestor has all the ability in the world,” Adelaide assistant coach and former Socceroos captain, Mark Milligan, said on Wednesday. “He’s still very young, and I think in this day and age the expectation can come a lot quicker than what it used to, with social media and things like that … but with them naming him as a train-on they sort of manage those expectations.

“For him to go in and be able to see how the players in the camp behave and conduct themselves, and the processes they go through is a very, very important time for his growth. It’s a fantastic experience for him. I really believe he’ll end up where he needs to be but he very much needs his own time to find his way.”

There is also a chance uncapped pair Jordan Bos and Alex Robertson could make their debuts during this international window, with the second match against Ecuador to be played at Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium on Tuesday night.

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