Who'll start for the Caltex Socceroos against Syria?

It all comes down to this. A win against Syria and the Caltex Socceroos will progress to an intercontinental play-off for a spot at next year's FIFA World Cup in Russia. 

But in this make-or-break fixture, who will Ange Postecoglou start with? 

We think there'll be changes from Thursday night's first leg in energy-sapping Malaysia. 

Here's our predicted starting XI. 

Keeper: Mat Ryan

Clearly Australia’s first-choice shot-stopper, Ryan was excellent in the first leg in Melaka. His assured presence with ball at feet will be a huge benefit on the first-rate surface in Sydney.

Maty Ryan


Left sided central defender: Matt Jurman

Slotted in for his international debut in Malaysia and looked comfortable from the get-go. His presence, strength, fitness and ability to read the play make him a valuable asset in Postecoglou’s back three formation.

Matt Jurman


Central defender: Trent Sainsbury

The Jiangsu centre-back is ultra-consistent at international level and he showed his class with another superb performance in the first leg. Australia’s most experienced defender, Sainsbury will again be crucial to the Socceroos’ chances on Tuesday night

Trent Sainsbury is expecting another physical battle with Syria on Tuesday night.


Right sided central defender: Milos Degenek

The Japan-based defender has become a regular under Postecoglou in recent months and is repaying his manager’s faith with some solid performances. Looks set to start again in an unchanged back-line.

Milos Degenek


Central midfielder: Mark Milligan

Wasn’t quite at his best in Malaysia but he suffered some heavy treatment from an overzealous Syrian midfield. Will enjoy playing on a much better surface in Sydney and will be integral to getting the ball moving forward to the creative outlets.

Mark Milligan Socceroos


Central midfielder: Jackson Irvine

Highly likely to start. Didn’t see any game time in Malaysia and will be fresh as Australia look to take the game to Syria. His engine and high work rate which could prove crucial against a dogged opposition.

Jackson Irvine says he is re-energised ahead of the clash with Syria.


Wingback left side: Craig Goodwin

With Aziz Behich getting through a mountain of work in the first leg, Goodwin looms as a real option in the wide role. Has been in good form in Holland and his delivery from the flank could be a real weapon in attack.

Craig Goodwin has been named in the 30-man Caltex Socceroos squad to face Syria.


Wingback right side: Mat Leckie

The Hertha Berlin attacker played further forward in Malaysia but could revert to a wider position in Sydney to accommodate players in central areas. His raw pace caused Syria plenty of problems in the first leg and it was his ball which set up Robbie Kruse’s goal.

Mat Leckie on the ball against Syria


Attacking midfielder: Aaron Mooy

Far and away Australia’s best player in the first leg, Mooy will again be pivotal to the Socceroos’ creativity in the return fixture. Will relish the quality of the playing surface as he looks to pick his passes and link up in attack.

Aaron Mooy on the ball against Syria.


Attacking midfielder: Tom Rogic

Looms as the real x-factor in this clash. Made a short appearance off the bench in Melaka and will come into this game fresh and keen to make an impact on home soil.

Tom Rogic is a potential match-winner for the Caltex Socceroos against Syria.


Central striker: Tim Cahill

Is this his moment to shine yet again? Watched on as a spectator last week and looks likely to slot in from the start. Tomi Juric worked his socks off in tough conditions so Cahill looms as the obvious option at the point of the attack.

Will Tim Cahill deliver for the Caltex Socceroos yet again?