Predicted starting XI for Caltex Socceroos playoff first leg in Honduras
Who will start in San Pedro Sula on Saturday morning? We try to predict the starting XI that Ange Postecoglou will opt to start with in Honduras.
Goalkeeper: Mat Ryan
Has been in superb touch for EPL club Brighton and unquestionably the Socceroos first-choice keeper. His distribution from the back could prove crucial in difficult conditions in San Pedro Sula.
Right CB: Milos Degenek
The Japan-based defender has continued to grow into international football and is one of Australia’s most improved performers. Has developed a nice partnership alongside Trent Sainsbury and could benefit with Ange sticking with the same back three from the Syria play-off.
Centre-back: Trent Sainsbury
The ever reliable centre-back has been ultra consistent at international level and will be a key figure as Australia look to earn a crucial clean sheet away from home.
Left CB: Matt Jurman
Made his debut against Syria and looked every bit the international footballer with an assured and solid showing. His imposing presence, maturity and aerial ability will be a real asset at both ends of the pitch.
Left wing-back: Aziz Behich
The Turkish-based defender is in the form of his career at Bursaspor and looks likely to start with Brad Smith out injured. Three goals in four games in Turkey has him in superb goal-scoring touch too while his fitness - so key in such a role - will be vital in humid conditions.
Right wing-back: Josh Risdon
The Wanderers defender has enjoyed a bright start to the season and looks primed for a start against the pacey Hondurans. His athleticism and willingness to get forward could give him the nod and like Behich, is super fit.
Holding midfield: Massimo Luongo
The QPR midfielder has been an ever present for his club side this season and was recently appointed captain under Ian Holloway. The maturing Luongo needs to step up in the absence of Milligan, Leckie and Kruse while his fitness is likely to see him start ahead of Jedinak.
Central midfield: Jackson Irvine
Missed out against Syria but the energetic midfielder could play a big role in the first leg.He played almost a full game last weekend and he can score while his engine and work-rate are top notch.
Attacking midfield: Aaron Mooy
Arguably Australia’s best player, Mooy is the key to the Socceroos’ attack. The Huddersfield star’s ability to get onto the ball and link up with the likes of Rogic, Juric and Co. will be pivotal to Australia’s chances.
Attacking midfield: Tom Rogic
The Socceroos’ ‘X-Factor’, Rogic has the potential to break the game open for Postecoglou’s side. The Celtic playmaker’s silky dribbling and ability to pick a pass could help Australia grab that vital away goal.
Striker: Tomi Juric
With Tim Cahill battling an ankle injury, Juric looms as Australia’s main man up front. The FC Luzern striker continues to mature in the Green and Gold and will be asked to put in a big shift in hot and humid conditions.