Predicting the Australia Squad 40 Days from the 2014 World Cup
The Socceroos are on the brink of a generational shift in terms of players and have a new coach in Ange Postecoglou, meaning their squad for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil is not as easy to predict as many of the other teams in the tournament.
Aside from a handful of veterans who are impossible to leave out, Postecoglou—who took over the role after Australia had already sealed qualification—has hinted that he intends to give the squad a youthful feel.
Many of the youngsters who could make the grade have only a few caps to their name, so Brazil will be a trial by fire for them, especially considering the quality of Australia's group opponents in Spain, the Netherlands and Chile.
Here is how the Socceroos squad could look at the World Cup.
Goalkeeper: Mathew Ryan
Club: Club Brugge
With the international retirement of the legendary Mark Schwarzer, Australia will have a vastly less experienced goalkeeper between the sticks in Brazil.
Mathew Ryan probably has a slight edge over Mitchell Langerak for the starting role at this stage, though a final decision may not be made until the squad gathers to prepare.
Goalkeeper: Mitchell Langerak
Club: Borussia Dortmund
The other young 'keeper competing for the main gig with Ryan, Langerak has the advantage of being on the books of one of the biggest clubs in Europe but the disadvantage of not getting much game time in recent months.
Goalkeeper: Brad Jones
Along with the two youngsters, Postecoglou is likely to take veteran Liverpool 'keeper Brad Jones along as well, just in case.
He is also lacking in recent playing time but has bags of experience and can be relied on if called upon.
Defender: Michael Zullo
Club: Adelaide United
Postecoglou knows Michael Zullo from his Brisbane Roar days, which might give him the edge in earning selection over other potential wide backs, along with the fact that he has been playing regularly for Adelaide United.
He is also capable of fulfilling a number of roles on the flanks, which could make him a useful squad member.
Defender: Curtis Good
Club: Dundee United
With scrambling to get playing time and likely ultimately to miss the cut, Curtis Good may be able to stake his claim to become one of the incumbent starting centre-backs for Australia.
He performed well in his one appearance in national team colours against Ecuador in March. His selection in that match indicates that the manager has him firmly in mind.
Defender: Ivan Franjic
Club: Brisbane Roar
As Luke Wilkshire's career starts to wind down, the Socceroos will be in need of another multi-tasker who can slot into a number of positions in midfield and defence.
Ivan Franjic is also a player with whom Postecoglou worked at the Roar and has started at right-back for both the games that the coach has overseen for Australia so far.
Defender: Matthew Spiranovic
Club: Western Sydney Wanderers
One of the A-League's better central defenders, Matthew Spiranovic is set to benefit from the absences of Lucas Neill and the injured Rhys Williams and earn himself a place in the squad, and possibly a starting role.
The Western Sydney Wanderers defender, who spent a number of years in German football, is a capable, if not flashy, centre-back.
Defender: Jason Davidson
Club: Heracles Almelo
Youth and the fact that he plays regularly in Dutch football count in Jason Davidson's favour in terms of his chances of selection.
He started at left-back both times Postecoglou picked a Socceroos team, so signs are good that he will make the squad.
Defender: Luke Wilkshire
Club: Dynamo Moscow
Dutch manager Guus Hiddink plucked Luke Wilkshire from obscurity, to the bemusement of many at the time, but the all-purpose defender/midfielder has become one of Australia's most reliable players over his career.
There's a chance he could fall victim of the coach's sweep-out of veterans, but his usefulness in plugging gaps in the side should see him selected for a third World Cup.
Defender: Ryan McGowan
Club: Shandong Luneng Taishan
Though he won't be overly familiar to many Australia fans, Ryan McGowan has been involved with the national team setup right through the youth ranks and has already played eight times for the senior team.
He currently plies his trade in China after a number of years in Scottish football.
Midfielder: Mark Bresciano
Few players have shone as brightly as Mark Bresciano in a Socceroos jersey, and that's not just because of his bald dome.
He may be reaching the end of his career, but his creativity and knack for scoring crucial goals will get him in the squad for one more World Cup.
Midfielder: Mile Jedinak
Club: Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace midfield general Mile Jedinak was given the captain's armband by Postecoglou for Australia's most recent clash against Ecuador, indicating just how important the manager believes him to be for the side.
The 29-year-old is a leader on the pitch and will be relied on to battle his side into contention against some very talented opposition.
Midfielder: Tom Rogic
Club: Melbourne Victory
An injury-interrupted season for Melbourne Victory and some patchy form could endanger Tom Rogic's selection in the Socceroos squad, but such is his talent and potential that the gaffer may decide he is a risk worth taking.
With few truly creative players available for Australia, Rogic could one day become the national team's playmaker and go-to man.
Midfielder: Tommy Oar
Livewire winger Tommy Oar has become an even more important player for the Socceroos now that Robbie Kruse is virtually assured of missing the World Cup through injury.
The Utrecht man has pace to burn as well as excellent close control.
He will be expected to deliver the type of balls into the box that Tim Cahill loves to pounce on.
Midfielder: James Holland
Club: Austria Vienna
Though he is not expected to be in the running for a starting spot, James Holland could be taken as a back-up midfielder should the likes of Jedinak or Mark Milligan get injured.
Plenty of game time for Austria Vienna and experience in the UEFA Champions League mean Holland should be well prepared for the June tournament.
Midfielder: Dario Vidosic
Postecoglou appears to be a fan of Dario Vidosic after naming him in his starting lineup against Costa Rica and bringing him on as a substitute against Ecuador.
The midfielder has good technical ability, can play a number of positions and can both attack and defend.
Midfielder: Joshua Brillante
Club: Newcastle Jets
This would be a left-field choice, but there is no doubting Joshua Brillante is one of Australia's brightest emerging talents, so Postecoglou might just blood him at this World Cup.
The Bundaberg boy is able to play at right-back or as a defensive midfielder, and he has stacks of maturity to go with his skills.
Aside from being a rugged defender, Brillante possesses a lethal long-range shot.
Midfielder: Mark Milligan
Club: Melbourne Victory
Based on the two matches he has been in charge of so far, the Australian coach seems to like Mark Milligan as the man to support Jedinak in midfield.
One of the better players in the A-League, Milligan is not the most exciting centre-mid in the world, but he does get the job done.
Forward: Joshua Kennedy
Club: Nagoya Grampus
There may be a freshening up of the squad taking place, but certain older players, such as Josh Kennedy, have something different to offer which makes them hard to leave out.
The lanky striker has an impressive record of 17 goals for his country and can be used as an impact sub off the bench if the manager decides it's time for an aerial assault.
Forward: Tim Cahill
Club: New York Red Bulls
Australia's all-time top goal-scorer is also a fan favourite and proven match winner.
He'll be the first player picked by the coach.
Forward: Matthew Leckie
Club: FSV Frankfurt
Able to play anywhere across the front line, Matthew Leckie should be included in Postecoglou's plans in order to give him tactical options in the attacking third.
Fleet of foot and confident enough to take on defenders, Leckie can be a tricky customer for opponents to contain.
Forward: Adam Taggart
Club: Newcastle Jets
There are several A-League strikers in the running for inclusion in the Socceroos squad, but by top-scoring in the competition with 16 goals, Adam Taggart might have given himself an edge over his rivals.
At just 20 years of age, he fits well into the long-term thinking of the manager.
Forward: Nikita Rukavytsya
Club: FSV Frankfurt
He is not as complete a forward as Kruse, but in the Bayer Leverkusen man's absence, Nikita Rukavytsya could be called upon when an injection of pace is needed in the Australian attack.
The Ukrainian-born striker can be lax with his finishing at times, but he is capable of sparking his side to life when they are having trouble breaking down an opponent.