On Tuesday morning all of Australia will be waiting with baited breath for the announcement of the final Socceroo squad for the Asian Cup next month.
Head Coach Ange Postecoglou will announce his 23-Player Socceroos squad in Melbourne.
Postecoglou will hold a media conference at 9:30am (AEDT) on Tuesday, 23 December at AAMI Park.
We take a look at the five burning questions the Socceroo fans are debating as we wait for Ange to reveal all.
1) Has Nathan Burns done enough?
Postecoglou has always said he will only pick players who are playing regularly and are in good form. Burns certainly fits that bill. The Wellington Phoenix attacker is the hottest player in the Hyundai A-League at the moment, his brace against Sydney FC on Sunday takes his tally to 10 goals in 11 games this season to lead the scorers’ charts in the competition. Scoring goals – with the exception of Tim Cahill of course – has been a huge problem for the Socceroos under Postecoglou so Burns’ hot-streak in front of goal is certainly timely. His good touch, eye for a pass and ability to get in behind defences with his pace surely makes him a lock for a spot in the final 23 despite last playing in the Green and Gold back in November 2011.
2) Will Brad Jones have to leave Liverpool's starting XI for a spot behind Mat Ryan and Mitch Langerak?
A perennial No.2 at the Reds in recent years, Jones’ recent promotion to the starting side has come at the perfect time for a last-ditch bid for Asian Cup selection. The 32-year-old gloveman is one of five ‘keepers in the preliminary squad which needs to be trimmed to three for the tournament. Maty Ryan’s exceptional form for Belgian side Club Brugge will ensure he has the no.1 spot sewn up with Mitch Langerak to be his deputy. Having just won his spot in the Liverpool XI, it would probably be in Jones’ favour to remain in England and play as many games as possible during the grueling festive period in the Premier League. Eugene Galekovic hasn’t put a foot wrong in the Hyundai A-League with Adelaide and should beat out Reading’s Adam Federici for the final ‘keeper spot after also going to Brazil for the World Cup earlier this year.
3) Will Ange punt on injured stars like Williams, Kennedy and Taggart?
The Socceroo boss showed great faith in a number of players who have struggled with injury of late by naming them in his original squad but is he willing to gamble and include them in his final 23? Williams and Kennedy both missed the World Cup and haven’t played a competitive match in many months but both are currently in training with their club sides Middlesbrough and Melbourne City respectively. Adam Taggart is back playing with Fulham’s reserve side following recent groin surgery and the fact he played two matches in Brazil might help his cause despite his limited game time of late, especially as goals have been a problem for the Socceroos. But knowing the way Postecoglou likes to train his squad rigorously in the build up to a major tournament, he won’t carry any players less than 100 percent which is likely to work against this trio making the final cut.
4) Is selecting teenage playmaker Daniel De Silva too much of a risk?
The 17-year-old prodigy has sprung into serious calculations for a spot in the squad thanks to a string of fine performances for the Hyundai A-League leaders Perth Glory over the last couple of months. The AS Roma-bound midfielder’s stunning volley against Central Coast on the weekend underlined his undoubted talent but is the teenager ready for the pressure and expectation of a major international tournament. Club coach Kenny Lowe thinks maybe not yet but Postecoglou has shown he’s not afraid to throw youngsters into the furnace if he believes they are good enough. With the likes of Mark Bresciano James Troisi and Massimo Luongo all capable of playing in that ‘no.10’ role De Silva prefers, this tournament might have come just a little bit too early for the Perth-born playmaker.
5) The battle for left back is still open?Jason Davidson was one of the Socceroos' most consistent players at the World Cup but has found things difficult since moving to EPL club West Bromwich Albion this season. The left-back has featured just a couple of times for the Baggies, with Turkey-based defender Aziz Behich appearing to have leap-frogged him to be first choice in that spot for the tournament. The 23-year-old now faces a nervous wait to see if he can grab a spot in a very competitive squad. Brad Smith – the other genuine left-back option – is also lacking genuine game time at Liverpool which should see Davidson get a reprieve and make the final 23 although Chris Herd’s versatility could play on Postecoglou’s mind if he wants to include more midfielders and attackers in his squad.
Note that players injured between 29 December and the first match (Friday 9 January) can be replaced by another player from the original squad list of 50 which was announced on 8 December 2014.