Who will start for the Socceroos against China?

Which 11 players will be entrusted with guiding the national team into the last four of the competition on home soil? The Goal Australia team make their predictions.

Ange Postecoglou has chopped and changed his team throughout the first three matches of the 2015 Asian Cup, through a combination of necessity brought about by injury and a desire to ensure his key players are fit and firing for the knockout stages.

After losing the final match of Group A 1-0 to South Korea, there are no second chances in Thursday's quarter-final against China, so it's safe to assume the head coach will deploy his strongest possible side. Here's who we think will be on the team sheet, lining up in a 4-1-2-3 formation.

Goalkeeper - Mat Ryan

Criticised by some for conceding Memphis Depay's long-range goal against the Netherlands at the World Cup, the 22-year-old more than redeemed himself in the games against Kuwait and Oman, making several good saves to deny the opposition in Melbourne and Sydney.

There was little he could do to keep out Lee Jeong-hyeop's winner for South Korea in Brisbane on Saturday night, the Socceroos' poor defending in the build-up to the goal leaving the Club Brugge custodian fatally exposed. 

He demonstrated his undoubted worth again in the second half, making himself big to deny the Taeguk Warriors a second goal on the counter-attack. You can be certain the former Central Coast prodigy, linked with Liverpool last week, will keep his place.

Defence - Aziz Behich (LB), Alex Wilkinson (CB), Trent Sainsbury (CB), Ivan Franjic (RB)

Although Jason Davidson came in for the 4-1 victory over Oman, Behich returned to the starting XI in Brisbane and remains first choice at left-back. 

Postecoglou has already confirmed Alex Wilkinson will replace the suspended Matthew Spiranovic in central defence, where the technical ability and distribution of the Western Sydney man will be missed.

Wilkinson has performed adequately as a regular during Postecoglou's tenure, including the World Cup in Brazil, but isn't as quick or as assured as Spiranovic and is likely to be targeted by China.

The absence of Spiranovic also puts the spotlight on Sainsbury, who has done well since inching ahead of Wilkinson in the pecking order for this tournament. 

The former Mariner, now with PEC Zwolle in the Eredivisie, has hardly put a foot wrong so far and his speed is an asset. Now he needs to step up and demonstrate a cool head alongside a partner who hasn't played a competitive match since the K-League season ended in November.

Franjic meanwhile is Australia's only remaining specialist right-back following the withdrawal of Chris Herd through injury. The Torpedo Moscow fullback has been excellent in the Socceroos' three matches to date and his importance cannot be understated.

Midfield - Mile Jedinak, Massimo Luongo, James Troisi

Postecoglou has said Jedinak, who missed the matches against Oman and South Korea after twisting his ankle in the win over Kuwait, is fit and certain to start the quarter-final. With the Crystal Palace captain returning to the base of the midfield, will Postecoglou revert to the midfield trio that began the opening game at AAMI Park, where Luongo and Troisi overcame a slow start to prove instrumental in the 4-1 victory? 

The alternative is for one of Matt McKay or Mark Milligan to keep their place and link between Jedinak and Luongo, who is a certain starter as one of Australia's stars of the tournament so far. 

That would leave Troisi to deployed on the left of the front three or named among the substitutes, which would be tough on the impressive Zulte Waregem playmaker, who came within inches of giving Australia the goal they craved at Suncorp Stadium.

Attack - Mathew Leckie, Tim Cahill, Robbie Kruse

If Troisi stays in midfield or warms the bench, the front three picks itself - Tim Cahill, refreshed after not starting the South Korea game, will be raring to go at centre-forward, where his aerial ability and physicality should worry China's centre-backs.

On the flanks Mathew Leckie and Robbie Kruse, also rested on Saturday, endured frustrating cameos when they were thrown on late in the game. 

Leckie was given little opportunity to run at a South Korea defence sitting deep in two banks of four, while Kruse was denied the equaliser by some great goalkeeping from Kim Jin-Hyeon. 

The two German-based forwards will be determined to exorcise the demons of that defeat at the same venue this week.

The Socceroos will face China PR in the Quarter-Finals of the AFC Asian Cup at Brisbane Stadium on Thursday 22 January (8.30pm local kick off).   Click here   to purchase tickets.