Four Socceroos face the chop

Ange Postecoglou might have made his mind up about which four players to jettison from the World Cup party on Tuesday, but if he has he isn't letting on yet.

The Socceroo boss has spent a couple of days watching his charges train – including in an open session in front of some 3,000 fans – but must soon make up his mind which four players to disappoint.

Whichever quartet is left out can stay with the team right up to the day before their first match – against Chile in Cuiaba on June 13 – lest there be any last minute injuries or withdrawals.

Selection question: Ange Postecoglou. Picture: Getty Images

Selection question: Ange Postecoglou. Picture: Getty Images

Tragically, that was the case in South Africa when goalkeeper Brad Jones had to leave the camp in the run up to the opening match against Germany when news came through that his son, Luca, had been diagnosed with leukaemia. The youngster died in November 2011 at the age of six.

Adelaide United goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic was hurriedly called into the squad as Jones' replacement, and he is one of the four keepers here in Brazil at the moment. It is expected that Galekovic, at 32 the oldest of the quartet, will secure one of the places alongside number one Mat Ryan and Borussia Dortmund reserve Mitch Langerak, with promising young shot-stopper Mark Birighitti missing out.

That is perhaps the most straightforward call for the coach, along with his defenders. He only has seven recognised defenders in his party following the withdrawal through injury in Sydney of Curtis Good, so it is likely all seven will make the cut.

Postecoglou's biggest headache is in deciding his midfield mix, getting the right balance of left and right sided players, defensive options, creative types and those who could harbour a goal threat coming from deeper positions.

In camp at the moment there are 11 men whom the Socceroos media guide nominates as midfielders, and it is likely that two of them will miss out.

Those who would be guaranteed to be in the line-up are names like Mile Jedinak, Mark Milligan, Mark Bresciano and Tommy Oar. In various ways cases can be made for and against all the others.

Fitness is going to be a major issue for the Socceroos as they will be rquired to play a high-tempo, pressing game to try to deny their well credentialled opponents space. That means there must be a cloud over the participation of the talented Tom Rogic.

The lanky midfielder missed training on the second day here in Brazil – part of a programmed rest day schedule for all players – but has been plagued by injuries ever since he came back to Australia to join Melbourne Victory on loan in January.

He has had little game time and his fragile body consistently betrays his talent, leaving Postecoglou with a difficult choice to make: does he include him to use him as a creative influence off the bench when the heat has gone out of games, risking that he might break down again, leave him out, or throw caution to the wind and include him anyway on the basis that the Socceroos have very few playmakers of his calibre?

Looking at the rest of the midfield group it woud appear that the others most likely to miss out are the youthful Massimo Luongo, the more experienced Dario Vidosic, who has rarely impressed when given numerous chances in Socceroo line ups, or the speedy Ben Halloran, who plays in Germany. I would take the latter because his pace could be very handy if Australia needs to hit a forward outlet on the break if it is absorbing pressure.

For me it is a choice between Luongo, Vidosic and Rogic. If the latter is fit and convinces that he can hold his body together to play a part, he should stay and the other two be jettisoned. If not, I would keep Luongo in the group: the 21-year-old is unlikely to play, but if Postecoglou is genuinely building for the future then the experience will be invaluable for the Swindon Town midfielder.

Up front the choice is more obvious. There are five players designated as forwards: Tim Cahill, Matthew Leckie, James Troisi, Adam Taggart and Josh Kennedy.

There will be other opportunities for Taggart – unless Kennedy's body lets him down (he too is being managed because of his back problems) and Postecoglou doesn't think he can undergo the rigours of such a high intensity tournament as the World Cup. But his track record is such that whatever the situation he is worth chancing – he has delivered for Australia on so many occasions before.

smh.com.au

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