Frank Farina has stuck with the tried and tested in naming his party to take on
Frank Farina has stuck with the tried and tested in naming his party to take on England in next month's friendly...
The Oz manager sees next month's mouth-watering friendly against England as the first building block of the 2006 World Cup campaign but at the moment he's sticking with the tried and tested performers that have formed the backbone of the side for the last five years.
From the 18-man party, midfielders Vince Grella and Scott Chipperfield and the outstanding 24-year-old Blackburn Rovers defender Lucas Neill are the only players who were not involved in the failed the World Cup qualifying play-offs against Uruguay in 2001.
"There's not a lot of them that have come through and said 'I should be in this squad'," Farina admitted when he named his squad.
"But I think everyone in that squad is there on merit - they are all playing well at the moment.
"The time will come for the younger ones coming through, there are plenty of good ones but at this stage our squad is the best available one."
Wingback Danny Tiatto is the only first choice player unavailable through injury with Farina opting to bring in French-based forward Mile Sterjovski.
Followers of English football will know the majority of the Australian squad from their time playing in this country but, while it's the big names such a Viduka and Kewell that spring out from the page at you first, Farina believes that the most in-form Aussie is not a Leeds player, but a Blackburn one.
"Lucas Neill is having a wonderful season and he is probably the pick when you are talking about form players," he said.
"He's flexible and he can play either left or right-back," he added.
Farina gave little away about the captaincy, saying "We'll make the announcement when we are over there." Current incumbent Paul Okon, now finding some form with Leeds in the Premier League, must be the favourite to be meet David Beckham in the centre circle next month.
Despite the game being played in the middle of the domestic England season, Farina knows his side will be in for a tough test..but that's exactly what he wants.
"I still think England will pick their best squad," he admitted. "I am due to ring [Sven-Goran] Eriksson about the substitutions. "Our line is to treat it like any other international, and we won't be making a big number of substitutions."
Australia squad to face England at Upton Park on February 12:
Schwarzer, Kalac; Lazaridis, Moore, Muscat, Neill, Popovic, Vidmar; Bresciano, Chipperfield, Emerton, Grella, Okon, Skoko, Sterjovski; Aloisi, Kewell, Viduka.
*Sven will name his England squad exclusively first here on TheFA.com on the evening of Saturday February 8. Don't miss it!