Australia’s bid to topple soccer super-power the Netherlands has suffered a body blow with midfielder Mark Milligan ruled out of the World Cup fixture.
Milligan has a hamstring strain and won’t play against the Dutch in the Porto Alegre encounter on Wednesday (Thursday AEST).
“He pulled up a bit sore yesterday,” Australian coach Ange Postecoglou told reporters on Tuesday.
“He has got a bit of a strain in his hamstring but hopefully he’ll be okay for the third game.”
Postecoglou had already been forced into a defensive change with right-back Ivan Franjic sent home with a torn hamstring.
Ryan McGowan will likely take Franjic’s spot but Postecoglou declined to reveal Milligan’s replacement.
Cooler conditions are forecast in Porto Alegre compared to the hot, energy-sapping climate of Cuiaba where Australia opened their campaign with a 3-1 loss to Chile.
Postecoglou said the milder weather would produce a higher tempo encounter against the Dutch, but was adamant the Socceroo’s won’t take a defence-first mentality into the game.
“We’ve said right from the start that that’s not why we came to the World Cup,” he said.
“We know we’ll have to be very strong defensively because the Dutch are very dangerous going forward and they proved that against Spain.
“The other side of that is if we just try to defend for 90 minutes, there’s only going to be one result and that won’t be in our favour.
“It’s just as important that we’re dangerous when we have the ball.”
Australia have an unbeaten record against the Dutch, with a win and two draws in their three previous encounters.
But Postecoglou says the past was irrelevant ahead of a clash where a win for the Dutch will take them into the next round and all but end Australia’s campaign.
Postecoglou does take some solace from a strong Dutch influence in Australian football over the years, through the current Football Federation Australia technical direct Han Berger and previous Socceroos mentors Guus Hiddink and Pim Verbeek.
“That has kind of driven the development of our football over the last x number of years,” he said.
“So from that perspective we have an understanding of how the Dutch approach the game.”