By Cedelf P. Tupas
FOUR overseas-based players have been called up for the first time by national team coach Thomas Dooley to be part of the 23-man squad for the 2018 World Cup Qualifying matches against Bahrain and Yemen next month.
Attack-minded players Iain Ramsay and Kevin Ingreso, defender Stephan Palla and midfielder Luke Woodland are the newcomers in the side unveiled by the Philippine Football Federation yesterday.
The Azkals play Bahrain on June 11 at Philippine Sports Stadium in Bulacan before flying to Qatar to face Yemen on June 16.
Leading scorer Phil Younghusband will still lead the line with the returning Javier Patino and Stephan Schrock while Suzuki Cup stalwarts Rob Gier, Manny Ott, Misagh Bahadoran, Amani Aguinaldo, Daisuke Sato, Mark Hartmann, Patrick Reichelt, Martin Steuble, Jerry Lucena and Simone Rota and key reserves Kenshiro Daniels and Dennis Villanueva retained their places in the squad.
Neil Etheridge looks to regain his place as a starter with Dooley omitting Roland Muller for the two games. Patrick Deyto and Tomas Trigo will be the back up goalkeepers.
Ramsay, a veteran of the Australian League, has a Filipino mother and has long been in the Azkals radar. He finally agreed to play for the country early this year.
Woodland, a midfielder, played for England at youth level and was on loan at Oldham Athletic last season while Palla is a strong prospect from the Austrian League.
Ingreso already impressed former Azkals coach Michael Weiss who wanted him for the 2011 SEA Games team before an injury prevented him from joining the team.
The Azkals begin training camp on Monday at Rizal Memorial Stadium.
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