Osieck urges young guns to take chance
Australian coach Holger Osieck has thrown down the gauntlet to his fringe players, urging them to use Sunday's clash with New Zealand to prove they should be Socceroos regulars.
While Sunday's match at Adelaide Oval and a clash with Serbia in Melbourne on Tuesday are friendlies by name, they won't be by nature, with the German coach confirming he will use them to see if a host of new faces are up to Socceroos standard, ahead of the start of the 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign in September.
Osieck confirmed former Brisbane Roar winger Michael Zullo would start at left back against the All Whites and local product James Troisi would at least see some game time, while several others without significant international experience would get opportunities as the squad was carefully managed with two games in three days.
"There is a couple of new faces in the group and I'm really eager to see the boys that we have on the radar and have monitored over the last couple of months, see whether they are really up to date and in a position to help our team do a good job for the Socceroos," Osieck said.
"I'm looking for the players who can step up and be a regular member of the Socceroos. That's a great incentive for everybody.
"Looking back at the start of my job, one aspect of my mandate was to bring fresh blood into the group to rejuvenate the team.
"If you look back from game one and to today, a lot of players that hadn't been considered or that had been fringe so far have become regulars in the team. They have really enriched our team and have raised the level of the group."
With a host of first team regulars missing, including Tim Cahill, Mark Schwarzer, Harry Kewell and David Carney, Osieck will field a new-look line-up in Adelaide.
He said goalkeeper Adam Federici would be saved for the Serbia game, after joining the camp late following Reading's promotion playoff loss, paving the way for Nathan Coe or Mitch Langerak to play a full match.
Captain Lucas Neill remained in doubt with a groin injury, with Osieck indicating he was unlikely to start in Adelaide, giving Jon McKain or Matthew Spiranovic a chance to start - possibly both if Sasa Ognenovski was also rested.
Brett Emerton would likely take the captain's armband in Neill's absence.
Rhys Williams, Neil Kilkenny, Alex Brosque and Dario Vidosic were others in line for game time, as Osieck weighed up whether to save some of his bigger names for the match against 2010 World Cup group opponents Serbia.
"It's going to be tough for one individual to play two games over 90 minutes, that's for sure," Osieck said.
"I want to have a good look at everybody. On the other hand, the public - they ask for the players who are a bit more popular than others - so I have to find the right balance."
The German dismissed talk his side could find the going easy against an injury-ravaged and travel-weary New Zealand side, having only arrived in Adelaide on Saturday after a 3-0 loss on Thursday to Mexico in Denver.
"I heard a lot of things regarding New Zealand and the team and I don't like to listen to that, that is all crap," Osieck said.
"You are only tired when you talk about it."