Socceroos stand ready for Honduran test

By Ben McKay, Ben McKay is a Roar Guru

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    The Socceroos begin their World Cup qualifying playoff with Honduras on Saturday morning (AEDT), conscious of the importance of the away tie – but understanding that whatever happens in Central America, it will only be halftime at the final whistle.

    San Pedro Sula hosts the first match in the two-legged tie, which kicks off at 9:00am AEDT.

    The two teams will then fly to Sydney for the decisive second match on Wednesday, November 15.

    It’s a format that requires coach Ange Postecoglou to think deeply about his team selection, given the short turnaround.

    Adding complexity to the process is Mark Milligan and Mat Leckie’s unavailability for the first leg due to suspension, Robbie Kruse’s knee injury that means he will miss the opening tie, and fitness concerns over Mile Jedinak and Tim Cahill.

    Jedinak hasn’t played a full match since June, while Cahill went into camp with an ankle knock.

    Postecoglou is hoping it’s this month when he reaps the rewards of casting a wide net with his recent squad selections.

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

    “We don’t have a fixed starting 11 where I think we would have more issues.

    “With this group, I’m confident the 11 we put out will be the 11 that can get something out of the game here, knowing we can back up with four, five days’ time with an equally strong 11.”

    Postecoglou said the silver lining to having three players unavailable was that they would be fresh for the home tie.

    “We’ve still got a really strong 11 Friday,” he said.

    “Knowing those guys, who are such important players for us in this process, are available and will have no travel fatigue, no game fatigue, I think that’s going to be an enormous asset for us (in Sydney).”

    © AAP 2018

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