Second-leg specialists ready to lift Socceroos to Russia 2018

By , Ben McKay is a Roar Guru

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    On Wednesday the Socceroos’ World Cup fate will be decided, but it’s on Monday that Ange Postecoglou will see the great advantage he has over opponents Honduras.

    When Postecoglou takes training on Monday at ANZ Stadium, he’ll finally see his strongest squad on the park – at exactly the right time.

    Experienced campaigners Mark Milligan, Mat Leckie (suspension) and Robbie Kruse (knee) are available after sitting out the first leg.

    And for the first time since June, they’ll link with captain fantastic Mile Jedinak.

    In Jedinak’s last run of matches in the national team – in qualifiers against Saudi Arabia, UAE and Iraq earlier this year – Milligan, Aaron Mooy and Tom Rogic took turns to be suspended or injured.

    But now they’re all in camp, and they’re all ready to play.

    Postecoglou has taken great pride in how he’s cultivated a group of players – not just a first 11 – to be ready for Socceroos duty.

    “It’s easier to manage when you have planned for it and we have planned for kind of these kind of scenarios were we have used as much of the squad as possible,” he said.

    “We don’t have a fixed starting eleven where I think we would have more issues.”

    Postecoglou foreshadowed a string of changes to his team to maximise the athletic challenge to Honduras.

    “A lot of our game is based around making the opposition work hard. Playing them back to back suits many respects our philosophy,” he said.

    “We’re going as hard as we can in both games and they’ll have to keep up.”

    Centre back Trent Sainsbury said the returning trio could make the difference.

    “They’re bringing a lot of caps back into the team. To have their qualities back is a major boost for us,” he said.

    Postecoglou can also call on Tim Cahill and James Troisi, who travelled to Honduras but didn’t play and should also be fresh.

    Sainsbury said Cahill’s presence had already made a difference, backing him to overcome an ankle complaint to take the field on Wednesday.

    “He’s looking fabulous as always,” he said.

    “He’s one of those people who can psyche you up before a game … he’s always special to have around, that’s why he’s super Timmy Cahill.”

    © AAP 2017