Soc­ceroos brace for sav­age cuts

Ris­don looks set for right­back but four play­ers must go

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - SPORT - DAVID DAVUTOVIC ST POLTEN, AUS­TRIA

ONE of Bert van Mar­wijk’s most press­ing se­lec­tion dilem­mas was solved, but a num­ber of key de­ci­sions will go to the wire as the Soc­ceroos boss weighs up which play­ers to jet­ti­son ahead.

A for­mi­da­ble dis­play from West­ern Syd­ney’s Josh Ris­don has all but sealed a right­back berth against France while solv­ing a right-back se­lec­tion dilemma in one fell swoop in the 4-0 win over Czech Re­pub­lic on Fri­day.

The Soc­ceroos coach­ing staff will hold tense talks be­hind closed doors to de­cide on which four play­ers will be cut be­fore Monday’s FIFA-im­posed dead­line for the 23man squad.

Croa­tia-based Fran Karacic’s card ap­pears to have been marked al­though in­trigue sur­rounds the right-back po­si­tion af­ter Mi­los De­genek – who played at stop­per in March — re­placed Ris­don in the clos­ing stages.

The po­si­tion of Josh Bril­lante, who was thought to be vy­ing for a right-back role, could also come un­der scru­tiny if van Mar­wijk elects to travel to Rus­sia top-heavy with at­tack­ers.

Hiber­nian striker Jamie Ma­claren re­mains in con­tention, just days af­ter be­ing called up on standby for Tomi Juric (knee), and can con­sider him­self gravely un­lucky af­ter the cold call caught him on the hop, hav­ing had no inkling that he was on standby.

An­drew Nab­bout’s brace and Juric’s re­turn to full fit­ness (he trained for two full days be­fore trav­el­ling to Aus­tria) kills off Ma­claren’s chances.

In­trigue sur­rounds the at­tack­ing spots, with two of­fen­sive op­tions thought to be fac­ing the chop, be­fore De­genek’s right-back curve ball.

James Troisi, Nikita Rukavyt­sya, Daniel Arzani and Dimi Pe­tratos face a ner­vous wait, with at least one set to miss the cut. Van Mar­wijk has been coy when asked about in­di­vid­u­als, but broke rank to shower Ris­don — who was a fringe player through­out qual­i­fy­ing — with praise af­ter his en­er­getic 76-minute dis­play.

“Not re­ally sur­prised, but I was very happy with the per­for­mance of Ris­don. Every­thing, his to­tal per­for­mance,’’ van Mar­wijk said. “I knew that in ball pos­ses­sion he can play as a full-back but de­fend­ing he must be­come much stronger. He works very hard ev­ery­day, so he de­serves to play there. I see him im­prove ev­ery­day.”

Ris­don was thrilled with his sev­enth in­ter­na­tional out­ing know­ing the spot­light would be on with the right­back po­si­tion up for grabs.

“Yeah ob­vi­ously it was (a trial). It’s no se­cret that spot is up for grabs and I felt like it was a test. I didn’t re­ally think too much about it I just went in con­fi­dent and I just wanted to take my chance and I did that,’’ Ris­don said. “It is ob­vi­ously such a big mo­ment (the fi­nal cut). Ob­vi­ously ev­ery­one wants to be there and un­for­tu­nately ev­ery­one can’t. We’ll wait and see, fin­gers crossed and hope­fully I did every­thing I can to­day to be there.”

Josh Ris­don of Aus­tralia is chased by Jan Kopic of the Czech Re­pub­lic dur­ing Fri­day night’s friendly in Aus­tria. Pic­ture: Getty Im­ages

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