With Pim Verbeek announcing his extended squad for South Africa last week, the focus was rightly on the 30 players who made the cut. Less focus has been given to which seven players of the 30 selected will be watching the tournament on a big screen at the Blacktown Workers Club.
These “not so magnificent seven” that are cut will go from having one of their best days as a professional to one of their worst. All in the space of a month.
Some will be spared more heartbreak than others, though.
By far the unkindest cut of all will be for the three or four players who will leave for Africa as excitable as a kitten, only to be asked to return home before a ball is kicked.
Oh, to be in first class on that cheerful flight home!
So which seven players will Pim eventually chop from the squad?
Of the defenders Jade North (1) and Michael Beauchamp (2) are the men most likely. North has barely played a game in 18 months. We all know what Pim thinks of players who don’t play regularly and whose name isn’t Harry Kewell.
For Beauchamp, he offers no versatility beyond his honest aerial efforts at centre back. Unfortunately for him, other players in the squad can play his position as well as he does and can also play elsewhere.
Turning to the midfield, Mile Jedinak (3), Richard Garcia (4), James Holland (5) and Nicky Carle (6) are all strong candidates to miss a berth in the final 23. Jedinak is held in high regard but he is fighting for one spot with Carl Valeri, who should get the nod if past selections are any guide.
Garcia is not among the elite attacking midfielders in the squad, and James Holland, while picked in the extended squad with the future in mind, has not played a first team match at his Dutch club since February 2009.
He who polarises, Nicky Carle, will fall short as well.
His midfield craft would be a valuable option, but it’s tempting to think that Pim has only picked Carle to placate his advocates in the media, knowing full well in his own mind that Carle has Buckley’s of surviving the final cull.
Of the strikers, Nikita Rukavytsya (7) will draw the short straw. While he adds a much-needed pace option up front, Pim can afford one less specialist striker in the squad with his unwavering faith in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Even with Kewell under a cloud, there are midfielders in the squad that can cover the position if needed.
Despite being more profligate than prolific in a national shirt, Scott McDonald has to be selected as one of the strikers given the faith that’s been shown in him through the qualifiers. To do otherwise would be an embarrassment for Verbeek.
So there you have it: North, Beauchamp, Jedinak, Garcia, Holland, Carle and Rukavytsya will not be at the World Cup.
Of course, this is subject to change, particularly if one of the “not so magnificent seven” has the mettle to take out a teammate on the training paddock.