The Asian Cup is almost upon us, and Socceroos boss Graham Arnold has some big decisions to make.
After a pair of friendlies against South Korea and Lebanon gave favoured players a chance to cement their claim for a seat on the plane to the UAE, the final squad decision looms.
The Aussies take on Jordan in their first game of the tournament on January 6, and it’s anyone’s guess which eleven players will be on the pitch in green and gold when the first whistle blows.
Our Fox Football experts pick their XIs for the match…
ROBBIE CORNTHWAITE: Maty Ryan, Josh Risdon, Trent Sainsbury, Milos Degenek, Aziz
Behich, Aaron Mooy, Mark Milligan, Tom Rogic, Mathew Leckie, Martin Boyle, Tomi Juric
Former Socceroos defender Cornthwaite joined the Fox Football Podcast to share his thoughts, and made the big decision to switch skipper Milligan into midfield, at the expense of Massimo Luongo.
In the heavily debated striker role, he opts for the size of Juric, adding “In Asia we need to have some presence, some size upfront.”
Cornthwaite also suggested Rhyan Grant and Peth Glory star Chris Ikonomidis could be smokies to make the side.
DANIEL GARB: Maty Ryan, Josh Risdon, Trent Sainsbury, Mark Milligan, Aziz Behich, Aaron Mooy, Massimo Luongo, Tom Rogic, Martin Boyle, Mathew Leckie, Awer Mabil
Reporter Daniel Garb has stuck largely with the side favoured by Arnold in the early stages of his tenure, but opted for speedsters Martin Boyle and Awer Mabil in favour of Robbie Kruse. He notes that Mathew Leckie would start at striker in this setup, but rotate with Boyle in the course of a match.
SIMON HILL: Maty Ryan, Josh Risdon, Trent Sainsbury, Milos Degenek, Aziz Behich, Mark Milligan, Aaron Mooy, Tom Rogic, Mathew Leckie, Martin Boyle, Adam Taggart
Commentator Simon Hill throws a couple of curve balls in his side. There’s more support for a Milligan shift back into the middle of the park, while Brisbane Roar front man Adam Taggart is a bolter to play upfront.
He also points to Gersbach as an option at left back.
BRENTON SPEED: Maty Ryan, Josh Risdon, Milos Degenek, Mark Milligan, Aziz Behich, Massimo Luongo, Aaron Mooy, Tom Rogic, Martin Boyle, Awer Mabil, Mathew Leckie
Commentator Brenton Speed has omitted stalwart Trent Sainsbury from his XI after a pair of ‘stinkers’ against Korea and Lebanon.
He instead opts to reward Milos Degenek for his exploits in the Champions League with a spot in the heart of defence, while a rapid front three of Mabil, Leckie and Boyle is sure to excite.
ANDY HARPER: Maty Ryan, Josh Risdon, Milos Degenek, Trent Sainsbury, Alex Gersbach, Mark Milligan, Massimo Luongo, Mathew Leckie, Robbie Kruse, Aaron Mooy, Tom Rogic
Speaking on the FootBald podcast, alongside Speed and Shaw, Harper outlined his vision of a vastly different Socceroos XI than has recently been touted. He hands seldom used full back Alex Gersbach a start for his crossing ability, and throws Tom Rogic upfront in a ‘false nine’ role.
Harper is also an advocate of a Milligan shift into midfield.
MURRAY SHAW: Maty Ryan, Josh Risdon, Trent Sainsbury, Milos Degenek, Aziz Behich, Mark Milligan, Massimo Luongo, Aaron Mooy, Martin Boyle, Mathew Leckie, Robbie Kruse
Fox Football executive producer Murray Shaw is in favour of a Sainsbury-Degenek pairing in central defence, meaning a more advanced role for Milligan and in turn Mooy.
That means Rogic is shifted onto the bench, in the hope of a big impact off the pine. Kruse maintains his spot in the line-up as Leckie and Boyle round out the front three.