Socceroos brace for savage cuts
Risdon looks set for rightback but four players must go
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