Five fringe Roos who deserve a game

by Ben Somerford on Feb 12, 2012

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Holger Osieck may not openly admit it, but Australia's 'dead rubber' World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia in Melbourne – now less than three weeks away - is a good chance to try out a few fringe Socceroos and several youngsters.

The German has been cagy about the make-up of his squad for this upcoming game in the past, stating all matches and opponents must be approached with the utmost respect. Fair enough, he won't be experimenting.

However, when seasoned stars like Tim Cahill and Mark Schwarzer have spent the past few months battling injuries in England, you can understand why a long trip halfway across the globe and back, for a match which means nothing and will kickoff at 9.30pm local time doesn't appeal.

Indeed, you get the impression the aforementioned pair will be rested for the match, in many ways to appease their club managers (Cahill's boss David Moyes is known as a pesky bugger on these matters).

There's probably a few others who might be best served staying with their clubs during the international date – which comes only three-four days after domestic action on the weekend prior - through a variety of reasons ranging from niggling injuries (Rhys Williams) or to stick around and press their case for a regular run (ahem, Matt McKay – who 'luckily' is suspended anyway).

Luke Wilkshire is another who is out suspended, meaning there are a few starting spots up for grabs. So here are five fringe candidates who deserve a run (or at least a call-up) against Saudi Arabia:

Chris Herd (Aston Villa)

The Perth-born 22-year-old may only now be back to fitness after an ankle injury, but his chance with the Socceroos has surely come. Herd had to pull out of the Socceroos squad following his debut call-up last year and remains uncapped, despite his impact at Premier League club Aston Villa this season where he was a regular in midfield prior to his injury.

The question will be on his ankle complaint and whether the journey will put him at risk of further injury but Villa boss Alex McLeish says his rehab has come along well.

Mathew Leckie (Borussia Moenchengladbach)

Osieck has overlooked Bundesliga-based duo Leckie and Nikita Rukavytsya in the recent past which is odd given they both play in his native Germany. However, Leckie is banging down the door when it comes to a call-up now.

He may not have played many minutes for Moenchengladbach (mostly coming off the bench for late cameos) but his progress at a title-challenging Bundesliga club is remarkable. If anything, he needs to be in the Socceroos set-up for experience sake as he'll surely be a key future member of the side.

James Troisi (Kayserispor)

The left-sided attacker has been in sensational form for the past few matches for his Turkish club scoring three sensational goals in three games. His purple patch comes following reports of a pay dispute with Kayserispor which led to speculation linking him with a return to the A-League.

He's quashed those rumours, but maybe the situation has fired him up to discover his best form as he may be in the market for a new club come the end of the season.

Ryan McGowan (Hearts)

The Scotland-based utility is a player who's gone about his business quietly at Hearts but has surely done enough to warrant his first senior call-up. McGowan, 22, is a regular at right-back for Hearts but can play centrally in midfield or defence.

He's the kind of player who comes in very handy at the tournament given his versatility. He's got a good head on his shoulders too, having captained Australia at youth level.

Mark Bresciano (Al Nasr)

It may seem a bit left-field to nominate Bresciano, who hasn't played for Australia since the 2010 World Cup, but he has been in super form in UAE's Pro-League in recent weeks. Of course, UAE's top flight isn't international football, but he is fit, firing and likely full of confidence, and what better time to give him a return than in his home city in a game where he can show his worth. People forget, he is only 31 and still has plenty to offer.