McCloughan to lead Roar

Brisbane's depleted playing stocks dipped to an all-time low this week according to veteran defender Josh McCloughan, who will don the captain's armband on Sunday against Gold Coast United in the absence of Qantas Socceroos star Craig Moore.

Brisbane's depleted playing stocks dipped to an all-time low this week according to veteran defender Josh McCloughan, who will don the captain's armband on Sunday against Gold Coast United in the absence of Qantas Socceroos star Craig Moore.

Aside from Moore's return to the national team, the Roar will be without injured regulars Massimo Murdocca (broken leg), Henrique (knee) and Michael Zullo (groin), while David Dodd, Danny Tiatto and Charlie Miller are all suspended.

However Brisbane will regain the services of Qantas Young Socceroos trio Mitch Nichols, Luke DeVere and Tommy Oar after an unsuccessful Under-20 World Cup campaign.

Midfielder Matt McKay will also make his comeback from a knee injury on the weekend, but nonetheless McCloughan believed the club's depth was in the middle of its most thorough testing since the inaugural 2005/06 A-League season.

"At training he (coach Frank Farina) was trying to hand out the bibs to the starting eleven, and it was like a needle in a haystack, he couldn't find anyone," McCloughan said.

"This is the biggest challenge the club has faced since I've probably been here, in terms of players we have lost and injuries and suspension - so it's a big one against the Gold Coast, definitely."

McCloughan was confident his side could triumph in the face of adversity.

"You need a squad with depth to do well - and to be honest we've been stretched for the last four or five weeks," he said.

"We're putting out a side that is more than capable of doing the job, I look around the team and think there is no doubt - we go out and play well and we can get the points."

Fortunately for the Roar, United will be missing its two biggest stars in Jason Culina and Shane Smeltz due to international duty.

McCloughan suggested United would be significantly handicapped without their marquee man and the competition's leading goal scorer.

"Obviously they are two big losses for them - Shane Smeltz, he's been fantastic for the them this year, and Culina is the engine room."

"We're losing a lot of players, but they're losing a bit of quality there as well, I think they'll definitely hurt from those two as well."

Roar coach Frank Farina backed McCloughan to shine with the captaincy, a title he carried for much of the 2006/07 season.

"Josh is one of the foundation players of the club … he's been here since the club started and he'll do a good job," Farina said.