Tom Rogic is not out of the picture, Socceroos assistant coach Aurelio Vidmar insists, as he played down concerns over the star playmaker’s lacklustre showing on Monday.
Two first-half goals from Oliver Bozanic and Adam Taggart got Australia’s Brazil campaign off to a winning start as the Socceroos beat lowly Brazilian division two side Parana Clube 2-0 in a warm-up clash on Monday (Tuesday AEST).
Coach Ange Postecoglou is to trim four players from the group and name his final 23-man squad on Tuesday morning (Tuesday night AEST).
Midfielders Bozanic, Massimo Luongo and Ben Halloran put in strong showings to strengthen their claims to be retained.
But the same can’t be said for the highly-rated Rogic.
The 21-year-old played the first half but was replaced by James Troisi after a sluggish performance that lacked intensity.
He emerged from a tackle in the 10th minute walking slightly gingerly for a moment, which may have affected him.
But his head could be on the chopping block as fears about his lack of game time and whether his all-too-fragile body can withstand the rigours of a full 90 minutes appeared to be justified.
Rogic has not played a match since April 5 as a groin injury limited his game time at Melbourne Victory.
But with his undeniable talent and creative prowess, Vidmar backed the youngster as a potential game-changer.
“He hasn’t played in quite a while so you’ve got to remember most of these guys haven’t played for quite a while and they’ve had a pretty heavy load over the last three weeks,” he said.
“He just needs to find a little bit of rhythm.
“No-one’s out of the picture, that’s a discussion we’ll have tonight with the coaching staff and Ange.
“He’s certainly a very special player. He’s young, he’s got a lot to learn but he’s one of those that, in a second, can turn a game for you.
“So all of those considerations will be up for debate tonight.”
Vidmar said right-back Ivan Franjic was progressing well from his knee injury while Kennedy, who’s back injury flared up at the end of training on Sunday, wasn’t in doubt.
Perhaps the most clear-cut decision for Postecoglou is on the goalkeepers with Newcastle Jets shot stopper Mark Birighitti likely to miss out in favour Matt Ryan, Mitch Langerak and Eugene Galekovic.
With the dearth of options in defence it’s highly unlikely Postecoglou will cut any of the nine defenders in the squad.
Young-gun striker Taggart appeared set to be cut, but should Kennedy’s ongoing back concern persist, the Jets frontman could benefit.
The other cuts appear likely to come from the midfield.
Should Postecoglou decide to exclude Rogic, Luongo appears the likely beneficiary with perhaps Dario Vidosic to be left out.
But Switzerland-based Bozanic appears assured of a spot after looking strong in the midfield while displaying his versatility when switching with Matt McKay and playing capably at left-back in the second half.
“He was one of the better performers today for sure, he was really solid,” Vidmar said.
Vidmar also praised little-known Swindon Town midfielder Luongo who exhibited the attacking style Postecoglou likes, playing a lot of balls forward and linking well with the front third.
“No-one knows a lot about him but he looks quite silky and tidy so I think he’s got a good future,” Vidmar said.
Meanwhile Halloran’s pace and dynamism down the right also make him a threat, and a viable alternative to Matthew Leckie.