FTBL lays down its predictions for how the Socceroos may take shape over the coming friendlies
Australia Vs Lebanon
Goalkeeper – Mitch Langerak
Arnold is no doubt a fan of the Nagoya Grampus No. 1, but the former Borussia Dortmund goalkeeper found himself often playing second fiddle to Ryan under Ange Postecoglou and seems to have retained that position under the former Sydney FC boss. Will likely be handed a rare chance against Lebanon.
Right Back – Thomas Deng
Thomas Deng’s story, alongside that of childhood friend Awer Mabil is simply incredible. A tale of sheer resilience and one that provides a reminder of the Socceroos’ incredible diversity in cultures amongst the squad. Rhyan Grant might have to wait a little longer for his Socceroos debut as Deng is likely to be given an opportunity to build on from his impressive A-League form.
Centre Back – Milos Degenek
Degenek’s story of returning to his boyhood club Red Star Belgrade and taking on the likes of Napoli, PSG and Liverpool (where his side came away with a 2-0 win at home) has stolen headlines as of late. Rightfully so, but it is Degenek’s growth in ability and discipline that is there for all to see and there is no doubting that he will feel he has earned a chance to impress.
Centre Back – Matthew Jurman
The hulking left sided defender was a late arrival to Socceroos camp in the playoff qualifiers against Honduras and Syria last year but he was immense in a back three role that the likes of Bailey Wright and Ryan McGowan struggled with. Deserves another chance to demonstrate his indispensability.
Left Back – Alex Gersbach
It was surprising to see Gersbach not provided with a substantial run of games under previous regimes in the left back position, given how technically gifted he is for a fullback. Under the tutelage of his old boss at Sydney FC it is now time for Gersbach to begin to truly push custodian Aziz Behich for a shot at the starting left back position.
Centre Midfielder – Jackson Irvine
High energy, late arrivals in the box and flowing long hair. All components of Hull City’s and Australia’s own Jackson Irvine. It is tough to put Irvine in what will likely be a second string side against Lebanon because he was critical to maintaining the high pressure system Arnold wants to see in his team.
Centre Midfielder – Mustafa Amini
Amini has been kept predominantly to last substitute appearances in a Socceroos shirt over the past few years, but a starting role against Lebanon could be the chance for the former Borussia Dortmund youth player to display a creativity synonymous with his time at the Central Coast Mariners under Graham Arnold.
Attacking Midfielder – Dimi Petratos
Newcastle Jets’ own miracle man with magic feet has all the ability to be the creative hub for the Socceroos. Whilst blessed with natural speed it is his quick thinking, improvisation and silky skills that set him apart from his fellow attackers. If he is opted to play in behind Andrew Nabbout, the pair could reignite a very promising on pitch relationship.
Right Wing – Awer Mabil
A so far consistently solid season with FC Midtjylland in the Danish Superliga exploded to life as Mabil notched two goals and two assists in a 5-0 win over Vejle BK, putting himself in to serious contention for a start in either of the upcoming fixtures for the Socceroos. His FIFA 19 Team of the Week card is a splendid sight as well, considering his exceptional pace and dribbling.
Left Wing – Craig Goodwin/Martin Boyle
Goodwin has taken both the A-League and FFA Cup by storm this domestic season, but it is the hope of Socceroos adherents that he transitions such ability in to some exciting performances for his national side. Whilst Goodwin had been a part of Ange Postecoglou’s squads in the past during his time with Sparta Rotterdam, his return to A-League action has brought back a different player to his previous spell, leading to calls for a start against South Korea.
Earning the left wing role behind Robbie Kruse is no easy feat and in Scottish youth player turned Socceroo, Graham Arnold has a player well suited to his plans to rattle opponents with pace and one that has contributed to 20% of his teams goals this season. It was seriously tough to choose between Goodwin and Boyle, whom are both deserving of spots in the Socceroos squad.
Striker – Andrew Nabbout
It may be unfair to put Tomi Juric below Nabbout in the pecking order of Aussie strikers, but Nabbout’s sheer work rate and ability to press undoubtedly plays in to the hand of Graham Arnold, who views his Socceroos side as one to be modelled in the attacking style of Liverpool. Nabbout’s on pitch connectedness with Dimi Petratos is an additional factor that may influence Arnold’s choice. Nabbout himself is also of Lebanese heritage and has been approached by The Cedars before.