Australia Squad- Thoughts

Martin Lowe looks at the Australia World Cup squad. You can follow Martin on Twitter.

Goalkeepers

Mathew Ryan, Mitchell Langerak, Eugene Galekovic, Mark Birighitti

A hotly contested starting spot since Mark Schwarzer retired when Osieck exited as coach last year. Mat Ryan is the likely choice after showing decent form in Belgium followed up by solid performances when called up by Postecoglou. Langerak’s talent alone will make him Ryan’s chief back up. A lack of game time at Borussia Dortmund and a spectacularly poor ten minute cameo against Ecuador where he was sent off only minutes after coming on, will hold him back for now from claiming the number one jersey. Galekovic is expected to be the third choice with his extra experience over all three of his rivals, while youngster Birighitti will be aiming to dislodge Galekovic in the coming weeks before the squad is cut down to size.

Full Backs

Ivan Franjic, Jason Davidson, Luke Wilkshire, Matt McKay

These are starting to fall into place for Postecoglou after further options either pulled out through injury or lost form. Franjic, who was with Postecoglou at Brisbane Roar will start right back, with experienced Russia based Luke Wilkshire as his competition. On the left, Jason Davidson who offers surging runs and decent deliveries seems unopposed in that position. McKay will fill in if needed, but his inclusion in the squad is mainly due to flexibility, as he can cover equally well in defensive midfield.

Centre Backs

Ryan McGowan, Matthew Spiranovic, Alex Wilkinson, Curtis Good, Bailey Wright

A hot topic for many in Australia, as regulars under Osieck; Neill and Ognenovski were frozen out by Postecoglou, and immediate first choice Rhys Williams was ruled out with another long term injury. McGowan who has had a wealth of experience elsewhere in Asia is likely to partner Spiranovic in the heart of defence. Spiranovic seemed to come out of the Ecuador debacle quite well, while Wilkinson who could have been criticised for one of the South American’s goals will be content with back up for the tournament. Youngsters Good and Wright will compete to be the extra name on the final squad list, Wright being the unknown quantity after his shock call up on the back of an impressive campaign in the English third tier.

Centre Midfielders

Mile Jedinak, Mark Milligan, Mark Bresciano, James Holland, Massimo Luongo, Joshua Brillante

Skipper Jedinak is touch and go for Australia’s preparation matches but is a must for Brazil in the holding role. Alongside him is the A-League’s top performer of the last few years Mark Milligan, who may even be called up at centre back if problems persist. Mark Bresciano has regained favour in the squad despite Postecoglou’s disapproval of Middle East based players, and will offer vision from deep. James Holland has European tournament experience and is a comfortable rotator of the ball, while Luongo has the legs to keep the midfield working.

Attacking Midfielders

Dario Vidosic, Tom Rogic, Tommy Oar, Matthew Lekie, Ben Halloran, Oliver Bozanic, Adam Sarota, James Troisi

With two very deep lying holding midfielders, much of Australia’s attacks will be left to the front four, which include three interchangeable midfielders. Sion’s Vidosic is in prime position to take the right flank but will come under some pressure from Australia’s “next big thing” attacker Matt Leckie who is growing his reputation in Germany. Nike Academy project winner Tom Rogic who failed to break through at Celtic is favourite to take a traditional “number 10” position. His unnatural body type for that position may offer a different approach to a more typical Bozanic who has a good left footed shot from distance. Tommy Oar on the left offers the tricks and is almost guaranteed of a starting spot being one of the only midfielders to remain in favour since the Osieck days. Ben Halloran, who has recovered from an injury suffered at the last camp and highly touted talent James Troisi will be assessed against one another for the back-up spot. Adam Sarota, who gives Postecoglou further flexibility across the midfield will also be out to impress before the end of the month.

Centre Forwards

Tim Cahill, Joshua Kennedy, Adam Taggart

The central striker situation has seemingly continued unaffected by the change in manager, but the way they will be used is expected to slightly change. A greater passing game will ask the forward to hold up play opposed to a set piece aerial threat. Under Postecoglou, Tim Cahill has looked far more mobile than in recent years, but his true attribute for headed goals is still their major weapon. Kennedy who scored the goal that sent Australia to the World Cup is another who’s better in the air than on the ground. Nippy, instinctive striker Adam Taggart may be the better option in reserve who is used to a 442 formation and a partner in attack. His goals in this season’s A-League have mainly come off great interplay with his big central partner Emile Heskey, which may prove a worthwhile plan B for Postecoglou.

Verdict

Postecoglou as expected stuck with youth over experience and untested home grown talents over petro-dollar chasing journeymen. This has far reaching implications as little to no one believes Australia will pick a point up at the World Cup let alone progress to the second round. More than half an eye is well placed on the homecoming Asian Cup in January with Australia expected to pick up the top prize. The main worry is a spectacular embarrassment, so a relatively untested defence is a concern, with Postcoglou’s decision to leave the likes of Lucas Neill at home primed to backfire. The 30 man shortlist will be cut down to 27 ahead of the friendly against South Africa before the final 23 is announced by the deadline of the 2nd June.

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