McDonald, a prolific scorer at club level in Scotland for both Motherwell and then Glasgow giants Celtics for years but who now plays for English Championship club Middlesbrough, again failed to score for the Socceroos when playing as a sole striker during Monday night's 2-1 win over New Zealand.

In 16 internationals the pint-sized striker is still yet to score for Australia and Verbeek reacted today by axing the 26-year-old Victorian from his preliminary 31-man squad.

Defender Jade North and midfielder Nick Carle were also cut from the squad on Tuesday, reducing it to 28.

Verbeek said that McDonald just didn't fit into the Socceroos' structure of playing as a lone striker with the support of attacking midfielders.

He also sought permission from FFA to allow youngsters James Holland and Tommy Oar and fourth keeper Eugene Galekovic to travel with the team but he said that they will not be considered for World Cup selection unless another player is injured.

That 28-man squad will travel to South Africa on Wednesday - with the squad still including four goalkeepers - with Verbeek to name his final 23-man squad on June 1 when Australia plays Denmark in the first of two friendlies in South Africa prior to the first World Cup group game against Germany in Durban on June 13.

While the axing of North and Carle - neither of whom featured even amongst the substitutes against the Kiwis - was no surprise, the axing of McDonald so early into the World Cup campaign is a major shock.

It means the Socceroos squad now contains just three front line strikers in Josh Kennedy, Harry Kewell and Nikita Rukavytsya - who has just two caps - although Brett Holman - who scored the winning goal against the All Whites on Monday night - can also play as a striker if needbe.

And with Kewell (groin) and Kennedy (back soreness) currently injured, the axing of McDonald leaves Verbeek with few options if that key pair do not recover in time to face Germany.

Verbeek hinted at McDonald's axing from the squad after watching him again fail to score for the Socceroos on Monday night.

"I had them in mind before the game and I got a lot of confirmation for what I thought," Verbeek said following the 2-1 win over New Zealand.

"But it (the squad selection) was not just about this game, it was about the several training sessions we had before this and it's about all the (other) games we played in the last two and a half years."

Pim's 28-man squad - still including extra keeper Eugene Galekovic in case of injury - is now:-

Goalkeepers: Mark Schwarzer, Adam Federici, Brad Jones, Eugene Galekovic.

Defenders: Scott Chipperfield, David Carney, Lucas Neill, Michael Beauchamp, Shane Lowry, Craig Moore, Mark Milligan, Rhys Williams, Luke Wilkshire.

Midfielders: Vince Grella, Carl Valeri, Jason Culina, Mile Jedinak, Tim Cahill, Brett Holman, Dario Vidosic, Mark Bresciano, Brett Emerton, Richard Garcia, James Holland, Tommy Oar.

Strikers: Nikita Rukavytsya, Josh Kennedy, Harry Kewell.