Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou offered an indication of his possible World Cup starting XI on Saturday at opening training session ahead of Monday's friendly against South Africa.
Australia's coach is without his captain as Crystal Palace skipper Mile Jedinak recovers from a groin injury, while centre-back Curtis Good is still seeking to shake off a nagging hip flexor strain.
With the Group B clash against Chile now less than three weeks away, the run-out in suburban Sydney provided an intriguing insight into where the underdogs sit in their preparation for next month's tournament in Brazil, where they will also tackle Spain and the Netherlands.
The players took to the field shortly after 11am, embarking on stretches, passing drills involving one and two touches and games of rondo, the 'piggy in the middle' exercise made famous by Barcelona.
The majority of the 30-man squad all took part, with Mitch Langerak (knee) and Good the only players not involved.
Jedinak was restricted to lighter duties of running with the ball, while Dario Vidosic, one of the later arrivals into camp following the end of the Swiss Premier League season, also had a reduced load.
As the session drew to a conclusion media and supporters alike had the privilege of witnessing the first 11 v 11 training game of the camp.
Arranged in a 4-3-3 formation, the 'firsts' consisted of Mat Ryan in goal, Jason Davidson and Ivan Franjic at left and right back respectively and Ryan McGowan partnering Matthew Spiranovic in the centre of defence.
Mark Bresciano was deployed as the deepest player in a midfield three, with James Holland and Mark Milligan ahead of him. Mathew Leckie and Tommy Oar operated to the right and left of centre-forward Tim Cahill.
The 'seconds' played a 4-2-3-1, with Eugene Galekovic in goal, Luke Wilkshire at right-back, Alex Wilkinson and Bailey Wright in the centre and Oliver Bozanic, nominally a midfielder, the odd one out at left-back.
Massimo Luongo and Matt McKay sat deep in central midfield, as James Troisi played at number 10 behind Josh Kennedy, with Adam Taggart on the left and Ben Halloran on the right. Part-way through the match, Taggart was replaced by Tom Rogic, who took over as playmaker, with Troisi pushing into a wide left role.
Some fans may not have realised the significance of the practice match, but it certainly wasn't lost on the journalists in attendance, who were hoping Vicente del Bosque and Louis van Gaal didn't have their scouts in the stands.2 comments