Socceroos assistant coach Ante Milicic says injuries to key players will give newer faces solid opportunity to prove their worth in Australia’s World Cup qualifier against Bangladesh.
Skipper Mile Jedinak and teammates Robbie Kruse and Tomi Juric have all been ruled out of Thursday’s Perth fixture due to injury.
It means their replacements, Italian-based forward Chris Ikonomidis, striker Ben Halloran and Brisbane Roar midfielder Luke Brattan, will get a shot at impressing coach Ange Postecoglou.
“Robbie’s missed out, which is unfortunate. And Mile’s had that setback,” Milicic told SBS.
“But it’s a really good opportunity for a couple of new faces to come in and not only show what they can do, but it shows that Ange is rewarding players for their good form.”
Twenty-year-old Ikonomidis, an attacking midfielder for Serie A side Lazio, made his debut in March as a substitute in the Socceroos’ friendly against Macedonia.
Uncapped 25-year-old Brattan is being rewarded for an outstanding A-League season with the Roar while Halloran, who plays for second-tier German club FC Heidenheim, has struggled to break into the national senior squad since being selected as a World Cup bolter last year to replace the injured Kruse.
Milicic said the Socceroos would show world No.170 Bangladesh the same respect they would a higher-ranked team, as they aim to back up their 2-1 win in June’s opening qualifier with Kyrgyzstan.
Despite the setback of Jedinak’s hamstring injury last week while playing for Crystal Palace, Asian Cup hero Massimo Luongo will be back in national colours.
The 22-year-old midfielder, who missed the Kyrgyzstan match with an ankle injury, had another belter of a game for English Championship side Queens Park Rangers on the weekend and set up the winning goal for Tjaronn Chery.
“We missed Mass last time in Kyrgyzstan, there’s no secret about that, he had a fantastic Asian Cup,” Milicic said.
“Also Mathew Leckie scored overnight in the Bundesliga. Great goal, that was also the decisive goal and won the game for his team.
“A lot of boys are getting game time as well which is important for us, so the fitness levels will be up.”
Leckie tuned up for Perth by curling a superb shot inside the left-hand post to seal Ingolstadt’s 1-0 victory over Augsburg in the Bavarian derby on Saturday.
A resurgent Tom Rogic was also in fine form for Celtic, grabbing a goal for the Scottish giants in their 3-1 win over St Johnstone, while first-choice goalkeeper Mat Ryan made a strong second showing for new La Liga home Valencia on Sunday, drawing 1-1 with Deportivo.
Australia’s match with Bangladesh kicks off at 9pm (AEST) on Thursday. It’s being broadcast live on Fox Sports 3, and shown on delay on SBS.