Ange Postecoglou says he isn't worried about Ivan Franjic's fitness after confirming Luke Wilkshire will not remain in Brazil as defensive cover.
Franjic, the only dedicated right-back in the Socceroos' final 23-man World Cup squad, took a knock to his knee in the farewell friendly against South Africa in Sydney last week.
With that issue and the lack of cover at fullback - Jason Davidson is the only regular left-back in the camp - in mind, it might have been expected Wilkshire, a veteran of the 2006 and 2010 World Cup campaigns, would remain in the camp until closer to the Group B opener against Chile on June 13.
Australia have a friendly against Croatia on Friday (Saturday morning AEST) and can replace players lost to injury until as late as 24 hours before their first game.
Nevertheless, fourth-choice goalkeeper Mark Birighitti, one of four players axed from the 27-man travelling party on Tuesday, is the only one who will remain with the squad.
Josh Kennedy and Tom Rogic, omitted due to lack of match fitness, will join Wilkshire in leaving the country, although Kennedy will have to wait a few extra days as his bad back has prevented him from flying out of Vitoria.
"All three outfield players will go home," Postecoglou told a press conference in Vitoria after reducing his squad on Tuesday.
"Mark Birighitti will stay until the first match against Chile."
When asked about the decision to release Wilkshire in the context of Franjic's recent scare, Postecoglou was relatively dismissive.
"Yeah, (I wouldn't say) struggling with an injury, Ivan's fine," he said.
"Not concerned at all, he is in good shape."
Postecoglou did admit keeping Mark Bresciano was something of a gamble - the veteran midfielder has been nursing a back issue, a long-term problem which caused him to miss the send-off game against Bafana Bafana.
"If I took a risk on anyone you could say it is Bresh, I expect him to be fit for Chile. He is very sharp and has composure on the ball."
Supporters can apparently expect to see close to the final starting XI take to the field against Croatia in Salvador, although Postecoglou aims to keep a few surprises in store.
"The side played on Friday will be our strongest to an extent, but we won't reveal all our hands."1 comment