Gethin Jones has been called up by Australia for the first time, writes Pete Oliver.
Perth-born Jones has been named by coach Graham Arnold in the Socceroos’ 26-man squad for the up-coming Asian Cup in Qatar following an impressive campaign for the Whites.
The Wanderers’ defender and vice-captain will fly out to link up with his national squad before the Whites’ home League One fixture against Burton Albion on New Year’s Day and could be away for more than a month.
The 24-team tournament – won on home soil by Australia in 2015 – runs from 12th January to 10th February when the final will take place in Lusail.
Australia are in Group B and face games against India (13th January), Syria (18th January) and Uzbekistan (23rd January) in their bid to advance to the knock-out stages as one of the top two teams or most successful third-place finishers.
Jones has played for Wales at up to Under-21 level after his parents returned home from Australia when he was a youngster.
But the 28-year-old defender has now taken up the chance to represent the country of his birth at a major tournament which was first played in 1956 and was won in 2019 by Qatar.
As a result, Jones could miss a number of games for Wanderers, while forward Carlos Mendes Gomes may also be absent after being named in Guinea Bissau’s provisional squad for the Africa Cup of Nations in the Ivory Coast, which starts on 13th January.
“For them, personally, it’s fantastic and great for both, where they are in their careers and how much they have progressed and improved, that they can be part of those big tournaments,” said Wanderers’ boss Ian Evatt.
“We wish them well and want them to go away and enjoy their time and represent our wonderful football club in the right way.
“It’s disappointing to lose them both for a period of time but that’s football and we have to just adapt and get on with it. Other clubs are losing players as well.
“Liverpool are going to lose Mo Salah I think, so it puts it into context. You have to just deal with these things and carry on.
“It’s great credit to the individuals that are being called up by their countries. It just shows you where they are in their careers and how much they’ve progressed. We wish them well and hopefully they’ll have a lot of success and represent what we stand for really well.”