Vahid Halilhodzic has named in-form Takashi Usami as part of a 25-man squad to face Singapore in Japan’s first FIFA World Cup qualifier later this month.
The Gamba Osaka man has 10 goals in 12 J.League games this term and opened his international account in Japan’s 5-1 friendly win over Uzbekistan in March.
Usami, who came off the bench to register his first Japan goal, will challenge the likes of Yoshinori Muto and Shinji Okazaki – set to be team-mates at Mainz next season – for a starting berth in Saitama on June 16.
European-based players such as Keisuke Honda, Shinji Kagawa and Yuto Nagatomo are included in a strong squad as Japan look to hit the ground running in a group that also includes Syria, Afghanistan and Cambodia.
Japan have a friendly against Iraq in Yokohama five days before the Singapore fixture.
Squad in full:
Goalkeepers: Shuichi Gondo (Tokyo), Masaaki Higashiguchi (Gamba Osaka) Eiji Kawashima (Standard Liege), Shusaku Nishikawa (Urawa Reds)
Defenders: Tomoaki Makino (Urawa Reds), Masato Morishige (Tokyo), Yuto Nagatomo (Inter), Daiki Niwa (Gamba Osaka), Kosuke Ota (Tokyo), Hiroki Sakai (Hannover), Gotoku Sakai (Stuttgart), Maya Yoshida (Southampton)
Midfielders: Makoto Hasebe (Frankfurt), Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund), Hiroshi Kiyotake (Hannover), Gaku Shibasaki (Kashima), Shogo Taniguchi (Kawasaki), Hotaru Yamaguchi (Cerezo Osaka)
Forwards: Genki Haraguchi (Hertha Berlin), Keisuke Honda (Milan), Kengo Kawamata (Nagoya Grampus), Yoshinori Muto (Tokyo), Shinji Okazaki (Mainz), Yuya Osako (Cologne), Takashi Usami (Gamba Osaka)