The Caltex Socceroos will face life without greatest-ever goal-scorer Tim Cahill against Thailand but coach Ange Postecoglou is content with the attacking options at his disposal.
Cahill was left out of Australia’s 23-man squad for the upcoming FIFA World Cup qualifier in Bangkok after a hectic recent schedule with Hyundai A-League side Melbourne City.
The 36-year-old striker missed their 2-1 win over Adelaide United last weekend.
It’s the first time during this phase of qualifying Cahill hasn’t made the squad.
Roar flyer Jamie Maclaren rewarded for his good recent for in the Hyundai A-League with a spot, with FC Luzern’s Tomi Juric the other striking option.
“With Timmy, he had a bit of an interrupted pre-season. We took him along to the last camp and he got through most of the work but for us its most important Tim has a strong A-League season,” Postecoglou said.
“Next year is a massive year with the back half of qualifying and Confederation’s Cup.
“He’s one of a number that’s on the threshold and we decided to leave him out and bring in someone like Jamie Maclaren who we can get something out of this camp.”
Maclaren was last involved in the national team during the friendlies against England and Greece earlier this year after bagging 20 goals last Hyundai A-League season.
It’s been a much tougher start to season 2016/17, only getting off the mark in Sunday’s 2-1 win over Perth Glory.
“Jamie is always on the radar,” Postecoglou said.
“He missed out on the initial squad last week but I thought against Central Coast last week and this weekend scoring [against Perth Glory], he’s looked pretty good.”
Maclaren’s inclusion underlines the option at Postecoglou’s disposal in almost every area of the pitch, especially midfield.
The likes of Aaron Mooy, Tom Rogic and Massimo Luongo have been in excellent form for both club and country over the last few months and again loom as important players against Thailand.
All three started together in a diamond midfield in front of skipper Mile Jedinak for the Japan clash but Postecoglou may also decide to leave one of them out of he goes with a 4-3-3 in Bangkok.
“The reality is we have options and that’s what we want,” the Caltex Socceroos boss said.
“It’s a positive for us if we can change our formation at different times during the campaign or even in the game.
“It’s still a work in progress but having those players and being able to put them in the starting 11 gives us that flexibility that could be a weapon for us moving forward.”
Speaking about Thailand, who are without a point in qualifying so far, Postecoglou said: “Against us they will probably sit off as most teams do but I think they have more about them with the ball and being able to break through lines so we have to be pretty switched on.
“They haven’t got any points on the board at the moment but they will be thinking there’s no better scalp than the Asian champions.”