Tim Cahill defends his World Cup spot: No time for 'sentimental' picks
Tim Cahill insists there was no sentimentality behind his selection in Australia's 26-man squad, and that he will be "driving even harder" to book his spot at a fourth World Cup in Russia.
The 38-year-old Socceroos stalwart defied his age and lack of club game time for Millwall to make the second cut in Bert van Marwijk's extended squad ahead of in-form Hibernian striker Jamie Maclaren.
It came a week after Van Marwijk labelled Cahill "a special case" and subtly intimated the country's all-time leading scorer would be named in his final group come June 3.
But the man himself held no faith in anything other than his own ability, which he was confident could still make an impact at the highest level.
"I've probably spoken once to Van Marwijk and that was in the last camp about my fitness in Norway," Cahill told Macquarie Radio.
"Obviously I'm in great nick because I pride myself on professionalism and being in the top 20 percent fitness-wise.
"There is no real individual connections for players because they have to come in such a short space of time and produce at a World Cup for Australia ... they don't have time to be sentimental with players and do them favours.
"And I totally agree with that ... at 38 years old I'm very proud of where I am as part of the 26 but I'm going to be driving even harder now to be part of the 23.
"I don't feel any player has a given right -- regardless of what you've done in your past -- to think they've got that seat on the plane to Russia.
"I'll be leaving no stone unturned because football is my life."
Football Federation Australia chief executive David Gallop also defended Cahill's selection, rejecting the idea that his call-up had been influenced by commercial factors.
Cahill was unveiled as the centre of a marketing campaign by the Socceroos' primary sponsor Caltex, before the ink was even dry on Van Marwijk's trimmed group.
The opportunistic timing of the "Cahilltex" campaign, whereby a number of petrol stations have been renamed in honour of the country's leading goalscorer to coincide with the Russia tournament, triggered questions about the fairness of Cahill's selection.
"I say 'have a look at Tim Cahill's track record,'" Gallop said.
"He's a guy who has just produced for Australian football, for the Socceroos, so many times. He did it against Syria.
"So I don't think anyone can mock the fact that he is in the 26."
If Cahill makes the cut for a fourth World Cup, his role is likely to be restricted to a pinch hitter off the bench, given his world-class aerial ability in the box, as well as a leader off the field.