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Jun 10, 2013

Socceroos face selection conundrum

Socceroos coach Holger Osieck will keep his team guessing until match day on whether he makes team changes for his side's crucial World Cup qualifier against Jordan in Melbourne on Tuesday night.

Osieck has the luxury of a side which did the job superbly against Japan in a 1-1 draw last week, and now has regular holding midfielder Mile Jedinak and striker Alex Brosque fit again for selection.

Jedinak is the most likely candidate to return to the starting side if changes are made, despite the excellent performance of his replacement Mark Milligan against Japan.

The German only tells his players on match-day what the starting 11 will be.

Like everyone else, they are looking for clues - and Osieck was giving little away at a pre-match media conference in Melbourne on Monday.

"In football, you should never look back - the only thing you get is a sore neck," Osieck said.

"I look ahead. Jordan is a different game (to Japan). Everyone in our squad is ready to play, so it's a good situation but a tough one for me as well to make the decisions."

It would be a massive call by Osieck to bring in Jedinak despite his return to full training following the ankle injury which kept him out of the Japan match.

Jedinak has been a regular under Osieck, and provides an imposing physical presence.

But Milligan has incumbency, and local knowledge.

He plays much of his club football with A-League side Melbourne Victory at Etihad Stadium, and importantly seems to save his best football for the venue.

Meanwhile Jordan coach Adnan Hamad said his detention by authorities at Melbourne Airport for several hours on Wednesday before being allowed into the country was forgotten, and had no effect on his team's preparation.

But he was concerned at the scheduling of an AFL match at Etihad Stadium 48 hours before the World Cup qualifier.

"It should have been organised in a different way," Hamad said through an interpreter.

Socceroos skipper Lucas Neill could only shrug his shoulders when asked what effect the St Kilda-West Coast game on Sunday night might have on the playing surface, which has improved markedly in the last couple of years.

"It's always the same in Australia because we're competing with AFL and rugby league and rugby union (for stadia)," Neill said.

"We never seem to get a perfect playing surface, but that's the nature of Australia ... with shared stadia. We have to deal with it."

The Socceroos and Jordan face similar equations for World Cup qualification - win both their remaining qualifiers and be assured of a spot in Brazil next year.

Anything less will mean a nervous final game with victory needed, along with favours elsewhere.

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