Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou is poised to reveal some, but by no means all, of his hand regarding his World Cup selection plans.
Postecoglou will on Wednesday name a 23-man squad for the crucial World Cup warm-up match against Ecuador in London next week and has warned there will be a “new look” to the side.
The March 5 clash, to be played at Millwall’s home ground The Den, represents the final opportunity for Postecoglou to experiment before settling on his preliminary World Cup squad in May – and the coach plans to do just that.
Several players are in line for a Socceroos debut with Postecoglou eager to have a good look at fringe players with the World Cup less than four months away.
While under-fire skipper Lucas Neill finally secured a deal with English Championship side Watford on Tuesday, keeping alive his World Cup hopes, the veteran centre-back is unlikely to get a call-up for the Ecuador match.
With Neill’s lack of game time and Rhys Williams’ injury, centre-back is a position where Postecoglou is likely to try new options.
Western Sydney defender Matthew Spiranovic is on the coach’s radar after putting in consistently good performances while little-known Tomislav Mrcela, who plays in Croatia’s top tier, has emerged as an unlikely contender.
Dundee United’s Curtis Good is another centre-half in line for a call-up and Postecoglou recently touched base with him on his scouting trip to Europe.
Trent Sainsbury would have been a sure pick but for an untimely knee injury suffered just after moving to Dutch club FC Zwolle.
Postecoglou said several players he looked at in Europe would be included.
The likes of Swindon Town midfielder Massimo Luongo, Millwall duo Shane Lowry and Scott McDonald, Bailey Wright and Neill Kilkenny of English League One side Preston and Scotland-based Jackson Irvine could all come into contention.
FSV Frankfurt players Mathew Leckie and Nikita Rukavytsya could also feature while FC Utrecht duo Tommy Oar and Adam Sarota impressed Postecoglou in Holland.
But question marks still remain over what plans, if any, Postecoglou has for Socceroos veterans Brett Holman and Luke Wilkshire.
Other recently overlooked Socceroos Sasa Ognenovski and David Carney are among several players who’ve made a return to the A-League to press for a World Cup spot but Postecoglou is likely to look elsewhere in the competition for the Ecuador game.
Melbourne Victory’s James Troisi has had a stellar season while his teammate Tom Rogic is ticking all the boxes with some much-needed game time since returning from Celtic.
Holland-based Jason Davidson was tried in the troublesome left-back role in November’s 1-0 win over Costa Rica but Adelaide’s Michael Zullo may get the nod for this squad.
Western Sydney’s young-gun striker Tomi Juric and playmaker Aaron Mooy are also making strong claims for a spot.