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Nov 4, 2013

Neill to survive first Socceroo squad cut

Captain Lucas Neill will survive the first cut as new coach Ange Postecoglou resists a razor gang approach to his debut as Socceroos boss.

Neill is expected to be named when Postecoglou announces his squad on Wednesday for the November 19 friendly against Costa Rica.

But whether Neill keeps the captaincy, and even his starting central defensive post, remains to be seen.

Some pundits expect Postecoglou to anoint Tim Cahill as the new captain in the first step towards regeneration of the Socceroos.

But the former Melbourne Victory coach has also pledged to make considered decisions and respect the Socceroos' older guard as he starts his reign.

Postecoglou replaced Holger Osieck as coach, the German sacked after consecutive 6-0 away defeats to Brazil and France last month.

Postecoglou, the first Australian coach of the Socceroos since Frank Farina's tenure ended in 2005, will on Wednesday name a 23-strong squad.

But he is likely to delay crucial decisions until he gathers the squad at a week-long training camp leading into the Sydney friendly.

Much interest for the Costa Rica game will also centre on the battle for the starting goalkeeper role between evergreen Mark Schwarzer and the emerging 25-year-old Mitch Langerak.

Schwarzer was overlooked for the routs against Brazil and France, given his continued lack of game time for English Premier League powerhouse Chelsea.

Langerak, the Borussia Dortmund goalkeeper, could herald wider generational change for next year's World Cup in Brazil if given the first-choice role ahead of the veteran Schwarzer.

But Langerak doesn't expect his previous relationship with Postecoglou at Australian under-20 level to work in his favour.

"Ange has got his own ideas and his own players who he thinks he can work with and who he thinks he can develop," Langerak told the fourfourtwo magazine.

"It will be interesting to see which direction he takes.

"We're all excited; we're all looking forward to it.

"It's a clean slate for everybody. I'm sure everybody will be given an equal chance under Ange to show what he can do."

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