ERNIE Merrick said he’s the first to congratulate Andrew Nabbout about his deal with Japanese giants Urawa Red Diamonds.
That became double congratulations on Tuesday when Nabbout and now former Jets teammate Dimi Petratos were named in new Socceroos coach Bert van Marwijk's preliminary squad for this month's friendlies against Norway and Colombia.
Nabbout farewelled teammates and friends on Tuesday as the 29-man squad was announced. It capped a fairytale resurrection for Nabbout, who has revived his A-League career at Newcastle over the past two seasons after playing in the Malaysian second-tier following his departure from Melbourne Victory in 2015.
Starting as a wide attacking player with Newcastle, Nabbout has stepped up as a fill-in striker this season and scored 10 goals in 22 games.
“I’m the first one to congratulate Andrew,” Merrick said of the deal with Urawa Red Diamonds.
“He’s had a great couple of years here. He’s a great servant to the club, playing fantastic football.
“He has an opportunity to go to a really big club over in Japan and I think he’ll do very well, so I think it’s a good move for him and for the club.”
Petratos is also in line for a Socceroos debut and a chance to push his World Cup selection claims. The former Brisbane player has starred for the second-placed Jets as a playmaker in his first season with the club.
Both friendly matches will be broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS and Network Ten.
Socceroos: Aziz Behich, Joshua Brillante, Tim Cahill, Milos Degenek, Alex Gersbach, Jackson Irvine, Mile Jedinak, Brad Jones (gk), Tomi Juric, Matthew Jurman, Robbie Kruse, Mitchell Langerak (gk), Mathew Leckie, Massimo Luongo, Jamie Maclaren, James Meredith, Mark Milligan, Aaron Mooy, Andrew Nabbout, Dimitri Petratos, Josh Risdon, Tom Rogic, Nikita Rukavytsya, Mathew Ryan (gk), Trent Sainsbury, Aleksandar Susnjar, James Troisi, Daniel Vukovic (gk), Bailey Wright.