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Robbie Kruse and Jamie Maclaren out: Five changes the Socceroos' Asian Cup campaign needs

2:42 PM GMT+8 07/01/2019
Graham Arnold Socceroos
Several alterations are needed after the green and gold's disastrous start to retain the trophy

Australia got their Asian Cup title defence off to the worst possible start with a 1-0 loss to Jordan in Al Ain on Sunday night.

Anas Bani Yaseen's header from a corner in the 26th minute secured victory for the Chivalrous as the Socceroos failed to break down their opponent's defence despite having all the possession and territorial advantage.

Graham Arnold will need to make significant changes to the starting XI with the green and gold needing at least one win aganst Palestine or Syria.

Which players could be axed and what alterations can be made to the Socceroos style of play?

 

  • Robbie Kruse Socceroos

    #1 Robbie Kruse's Socceroos status has to be waning

    Robbie Kruse has copped plenty of harsh and unwarranted criticism over the years for his Socceroos performances but you simply cannot argue about his recent performances in a green and gold shirt.

    He hasn't scored for the Socceroos since his strike in October 2017's 1-1 draw with Syria in the World Cup playoff, and his last contribution to a goal was an assist during the 4-0 rout of Czech Republic in the lead up to Russia 2018.

    The 30-year-old's anonymous recent Australian performances should mean he is reduced to a squad player with Chris Ikonomidis the favourite to be his replacement.

    With injuries to Mathew Leckie and Martin Boyle, there is a place for Kruse in the squad - but only as an impact substitution.

    And if his performances don't start to improve, it may be time to end his international career.

  • Jamie Maclaren Socceroos

    #2 Jamie Maclaren is the new Scott McDonald

    Scott McDonald was a quality striker at club level but failed to score for the Socceroos in 25 caps - with a lot of those against average Oceania nations.

    Unfortunately Jamie Maclaren is heading down a similar route, having not hit the back of the net in his seven national team appearances.

    The worrying sign is that he has been basically anonymous in his last few Socceroos matches and isn't contributing to the team whatsoever aside from working hard to press.

    He isn't managing to get on the end of any delivery or fashion out chances himself - and also lacks creativity and guile on the rare occasion he manages to get on the ball.

    If Andrew Nabbout is fit, it would be a surprise to not see the former Newcastle man take Maclaren's spot - or see Apostolos Giannou drafted in.

  • Tom Rogic Socceroos

    #3 Is it time to drop Tom Rogic?

    Long seen as Australia's most talented player, Tom Rogic has consistently failed to perform for the Socceroos.

    The Celtic playmaker often produced magnificent performances for the Scottish Premier League giants but does not stamp his authority on matches for the national team.

    Maybe former Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou was ahead of his time in regularly leaving Rogic out of the starting XI?

    It will be interesting to see how Graham Arnold's deals with Rogic's ineffective performance

    Will he back him against Palestine or draft in Chris Ikonomidis or Jackson Irvine to fill the role?

    Being axed from the starting side might be a wake up call to Australia's most technically gifted player.

  • Rhyan Grant Socceroos

    #4 Rhyan Grant is the way forward at right-back

    Poor old Josh Risdon - you just felt he would out of the team for Rhyan Grant at first sign of struggle.

    Risdon wasn't Australia's worst player but he failed to have an impact going forward down the right hand side.

    Grant, a former Arnold pupil, understands the coach's system better and actually created the most chances of any player (3) during the match despite only playing 45 minutes.

    Expect to see Grant be the number one right back for the rest of tournament, but it will be interesting to see how he copes defensively against stronger teams.

  • Mark Milligan Socceroos

    #5 Mark Milligan to be deployed at centre back

    it was only a few months ago that people were talking about an untouchable Trent Sainsbury being the next Socceroos captain.

    Since Arnold's appointment, Sainsbury has struggled at centre-half, constantly giving away the ball and being beaten too often in one-on-one defensive positions.

    Against teams Australia are supposedly stronger than, like Palestine and Syria, Mark Milligan could be moved to centre-half and be allowed to stride into midfield, improving Australia's distrubution from the back.

    In midfield, Jackson Irvine or Mustafa Amini could be drafted into Milligan's midfield role as the Socceroos seek to find a better team balance.

    There is no doubt Sainsbury is Australia's centre back and a future leader of the team, but letting him know his spot isn't a lock could be the best option to get the most out of him.