Brisbane Roar Head Coach John Aloisi will use the remaining three training sessions this week to decide how to fill two vacant places in his Starting XI to take on the desperate Sydney FC at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday (6.30pm KO).
Roar midfielder and captain Matt McKay was today called into the Caltex Socceroos squad for the two 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers against Tajikistan and Jordan on Thursday and next Tuesday and will miss the Hyundai A-League Round 25 match against the Sky Blues.
The Roar also will be without defender Jack Hingert who is suspended this weekend after a second yellow card send off against Melbourne City last Friday.
McKay learned of his call-up this morning just minutes after finishing a solid training session with the Roar. He is scheduled to fly to Adelaide this evening to join the Socceroos camp.
After being a surprise omission when the squad was first announced, McKay was recalled to replace Greece-based former Sydney FC player Terry Antonis, who injured his back during training at the weekend with his club PAOK.
The Roar skipper (below, in action for Australia) is now In line to win his 59th Socceroos cap.
Aloisi said he was confident his squad had the depth to cover for McKay’s absence.
“This is an opportunity for another player to step up and show what they can do,” Aloisi said today.
“Our preparations for the Sydney game won’t change.
“Everyone will be working hard in training over the coming days and I will be watching all the players very closely, as I always do, to see who is putting their hands up to be selected.”
Reliable Steven Lustica is a strong contender to start while Spanish midfielder Javier Hervas was a late second-half replacement for McKay two weeks ago and could be considered, as might young midfielder Devante Clut, who was named in the Roar’s preliminary 18-player squad last weekend.
New signing Tommy Oar, who would be a Socceroo-for-a-Socceroo replacement, came on in the 86th minute against Melbourne City and may not have enough game minutes in his legs at the moment to be considered as a starter.
Several options also loom to replace Hingert at right back.
Olyroo defender James Donachie completed the full session today after battling knee and quad soreness in recent weeks, but he has not played since against Perth in Round 20 on 20 February and his progress on the training track this week will be closely monitored.
Right back Jerome Polenz is in the final weeks of his rehabilitation for a quad injury and hasn’t played since he clocked 75 minutes against Wellington in Round 3 in October.
Similarly, central defender Luke DeVere is being eased back after tearing his muscle off the bone against Villarreal in June. He has been training for several months now but his only game time has been two and a half matches in the Foxtel National Youth League in January.
The versatile Daniel Bowles (above) switched from central defender to right back when Hingert was marched, with Shane Stefanutto coming off the bench to play alongside Jade North. Repeating that line-up looms as another selection option this weekend.
With just two points separating the top four teams, the third-placed Roar need a win on Saturday to maintain their challenge for the Premier’s Plate.
Sydney FC stumbled against Central Coast last weekend and are now three points outside the top six and in real danger of missing the finals.
Saturday’s game includes an Easter egg give-away. To secure your seats NOW click here
The Caltex Socceroos matches against Tajikistan (Adelaide) and Jordan (Sydney) will be broadcast exclusively LIVE on FOX SPORTS (Ch505). Thursday night’s game kicks off at 7pm Queensland time.