Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou says there will be more changes for the Asian Cup group clash against South Korea on Saturday night but is wary of risking skipper Mile Jedinak before the quarter-finals.
Postecoglou confirmed on Friday he’s likely to make as many as three changes to his starting side for the clash at Brisbane Stadium, a fixture which will determine which nation tops the group.
After two big wins in their first two matches, Australia only need a draw to finish atop Group A.
With their spot in the last eight assured, it appears unlikely Jedinak – who injured his ankle in the opening game with Kuwait – will be risked.
The Crystal Palace skipper will train with the squad on Friday and then a decision would be made depending on how he pulls up on Saturday morning.
“Team selection tomorrow will be the same as the first two games. It will be a team we think can win the game, everything else becomes secondary,” Postecoglou told reporters on Friday.
“Mile is very keen to play, he’s doing everything right in his rehab but the team we put out tomorrow will be the team that will give us the best chance of success.
“If that includes Mile great, if not he’ll be right for the quarter final, there’s no issue about that.
“We just want to make sure we don’t put him in there when he’s not fully recovered. It wouldn’t be a smart move by us when we’ve got another game in four days’ time.”
Depending on the result against Korea, the Socceroos will either head to Melbourne for their quarter-final or a loss will see them remaining in Brisbane to face China in the last eight.
Given the high-octane style Postecoglou has employed with his squad for this tournament, he hinted he’s likely to give three or four players a rest to ensure the 11 he puts out are able to apply a high-pressing game for 90 minutes.
“Rotation is not designed to give everyone a game. Each opponent gives us unique challenges and what we want to do is make sure we play a high energy sort of game,” the Socceroos boss said.
“To go through a tournament with a core group of players just won’t work. The changes we’ve made have been made because we think that team will win the game and it will be the same tomorrow.
“We won’t make too many changes but we’ll make enough so we see can make the team play at an optimum level. The changes will make will be in areas we think where we need to renew the energy levels or where Korea are going to provide us some challenges.”
After racking up eight goals in the first two matches and playing some scintillating football, the expectation on the Socceroos to go on and win the tournament from the home fans has sky-rocketed.
But rather than see that as a potential burden for his side, Postecoglou feels it will bring out their best.
“The players aren’t getting carried away and certainly internally the expectations have never changed,” he said.
“We’ve taken six months to prepare this team for this tournament and you don’t prepare a team for a tournament unless you think you have a chance of success.
“Internally we been expecting us to do well in this tournament and it’s started well. If anything the expectations and the excitement around the team is helping us.
“A lot of the players are only just starting out as international footballers and they are understanding now just what an impact they can have on our country if they do well. If anything it’s been a bonus rather than a hindrance to us.”