The countdown is on to the Caltex Socceroos' make-or-break intercontinental playoff against Honduras, with coach Ange Postecoglou to name a 30-man preliminary squad later this week.
Australia will play the CONCACAF nation home and away next month away on November 11 and in Sydney on November 15, with the winner to book their spot at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
With so much at stake for the national team, who will Ange pick for arguably the Caltex Socceroos’ biggest qualifiers since Uruguay 12 years ago?
A factor that he’ll have to consider is the absence of key duo Mark Milligan and Mathew Leckie for the first leg.
The pair are both suspended.
It’s a blow as the pair have been among Australia’s best right throughout qualifying but they’ll return for the second leg in Sydney, fresh and ready to finish the job (Milligan, based in Melbourne, will be fresher than most).
With skipper Mile Jedinak also unlikely to be fit having yet to return for club side Aston Villa, it seems likely Postecoglou will need to bolster his midfield options.
HYUNDAI A-LEAGUE OPTIONS
With the Hyundai A-League season in full swing, the Caltex Socceroos boss has some good options.
Sydney FC duo Josh Brillante and Brandon O’Neill have started the campaign where they left off last season, excellent in the Sky Blues’ engine-room.
They have big engines, are excellent on the ball, strong in the tackle and have an excellent temperament, which is all important in these do-or-die clashes.
And as we saw in the Sydney Derby on Saturday night, Brillante has the ability to get on the scoresheet from midfield (he was also in the frame for the 2014 World Cup squad).
They aren’t the only midfielders who will be in the frame, with Western Sydney’s Chris Herd also making an excellent start to his Hyundai A-League career.
The 28-year-old has had his injury issues in the past but he looks fit and ready to get another shot in the green and gold.
And Rhys Williams is another who has had international experience in the past that could be ready for a re-call, having stood out for Melbourne Victory despite their winless start to the season.
Williams’ versatility – equally comfortable in defence or midfield – can’t hurt either when it comes to his chances of selection.
And what about Adam Taggart? He's looking fit and after two goals in round two for Perth Glory, the 2014 World Cup striker could also be in the frame.
Dimi Petratos is another - he can score and is in great form at the Jets.
FORM ACROSS THE BOARD
As we saw with debutant Matthew Jurman for the Syria tie, Ange will reward players who are in form and has the faith to put them in for these he matches.
In even better news for Postecoglou, most of his big guns are also in good form.
Aaron Mooy - fresh from a goal in a win over Manchester United this weekend - and Maty Ryan are earning rave reviews in the Premier League, Tom Rogic continues to shine for Celtic in Scotland, while Robbie Kruse is playing regularly, scoring goals and creating them in Germany.
Winger Craig Goodwin scored in the Eredivisie over the weekend, Tomi Juric is doing well in Switzerland, while Tim Cahill always delivers when it counts.
So there are plenty of options for the Caltex Socceroos boss for these crucial playoff qualifiers.
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