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Key Olyroos players get FIFA age boost for Olympics

Australia and Brighton keeper Mat Ryan says opportunities like the Olympics "don't come around often."

Several key Olyroos are set to benefit from a FIFA recommendation to maintain the original age eligibility dates for men's soccer at the Olympics.

The decision to postpone the Tokyo Games by 12 months has left players born in 1997 sweating on their eligibility, with the men's tournament restricted to the Under-23 age group.

Only three over-age players are allowed per team for the tournament.

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The decision to postpone the Olympics until 2021 threatens to make several of those who featured in January's qualifying tournament in Thailand ineligible under current rules.

Among those affected are key leadership and defensive personnel from Graham Arnold's squad. Captain Thomas Deng and full-back Alex Gersbach both turn 24 in 2021, as does Newcastle defender Connor O'Toole. Meanwhile, all three goalkeepers involved in qualifying -- Tom Glover, Jordan Holmes and Daniel Margush -- were born in 1997, as was Thomas Heward-Belle, who missed the tournament through injury.

On Friday, a working group set up by FIFA recommended the competition remain open to players born on or after Jan. 1, 1997, as originally planned.

In a statement, the FFA endorsed the recommendation to change age limits.

"While the recommendation still needs to be ratified by FIFA, the endorsement by the FIFA-Confederations working group highlights their understanding of the will of participating member associations to keep the Olympic dreams of players born on or after 01.01.1997 alive," the statement said.

The eligibility of banned trio Nathaniel Atkinson, Lachie Wales and Brandon Wilson -- who also turns 24 next year -- for the rescheduled Olympics also remains unclear.

All three were handed bans until Aug. 10 -- effectively ruling them out of the original Olympics schedule -- for an off-field incident during a qualifying tournament in Cambodia in March last year.

The FFA hasn't clarified if those bans would be affected by the decision to postpone the Olympics.

The trio, along with Adelaide United midfielder Riley McGree, were found to have engaged in "unprofessional conduct" involving a woman during the Asian U23 Championship qualifying tournament.

McGree's ban ended on April 1 and he would have been available for selection under the original Olympic program.

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