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Mar 24, 2013

Coach faces Socceroos selection headache

Socceroos coach Holger Osieck admits he has struggled to settle on his starting team for Tuesday's World Cup qualifier against Oman but this time it's because he has too many options.

The ANZ Stadium clash is a crucial step toward next year's showpiece in Brazil with Australia sitting second in the group but only ahead of Oman and Iraq on goal difference and a point in front of Jordan.

"We don't need to talk around the subject - it's a game that we have to win and we go into it in order to win," said Osieck on Monday.

With skipper Lucas Neill suspended, fellow stalwart Mark Schwarzer wears the captain's armband.

But question marks still hang over who will replace Neill in the centre of defence.

A-League players Jade North, Michael Thwaite and Mark Milligan and overseas-based Rhys Williams and Ryan McGowan loom as possibilities but Osieck was giving nothing away.

"In my mind, yes I have settled on the pairing," the German coach said.

"Knowing that Lucas wouldn't be available for tomorrow I've already worked on this and I'm pretty sure I'm going to have a good pairing in central defence."

Osieck however said figuring out the rest of the starting side was a little more difficult.

Whereas in previous situations club commitments, injuries and suspensions restricted Osieck's selection, this time, with more younger players jostling for spots, the coach is spoilt for choice.

"I'm now in a position that I have to admit I really haven't been in before in that I will really have some headaches but positive ones," Osieck said.

"There is a great deal on offer now in terms of players.

"There's decent quality and players that have made tremendous progress in the last couple of months.

"In recent games at times I have had the problem to really find a good number of players ready for selection but this time the quantity is there and within that quantity I have a lot more quality."

After Tuesday's clash the Socceroos resume their qualifying campaign away to Japan in June before hosting Jordan and Iraq.

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