Australia coach Pim Verbeek has warned Scott McDonald to get used to playing as a lone striker and suggested he will have Mark Viduka to compete with for this role in next summer’s World Cup finals.
Speaking ahead of Australia’s game with Republic of Ireland at Limerick’s Thomond Park, Verbeek rebuffed McDonald’s earlier suggestion that he will look to alter the team’s style to be more of an attacking threat before the tournament in South Africa.
With no other senior strikers available McDonald is set to play up front on his own, supported by Mark Bresciano, Tim Cahill and Harry Kewell.
“You should not change too many things that are good and I think we had a very good campaign…and the players know exactly what I like,” Verbeek said.
“I’m not going to use too many friendly matches for changing the system because I think we’re doing well with the system we are playing.
“We have the players to play 4-2-3-1 so why should I change that? It’s up to Scotty and all the other players to pick up a spot in that selection.”
Verbeek was more encouraging to Viduka. The veteran striker is expected to seal a move to Portsmouth in the coming days, but once his future is assured, and assuming he returns to full fitness, Verbeek expects him to return to the Socceroos fold for the first time since the 2007 Asia Cup.
“I think the only motivation for him to start playing football again is to go to the World Cup so that’s good for us,” Verbeek added.
“I did everything to at least get him in the squad (for the June World Cup qualifiers) but at that moment he was so disappointed about what happened in Newcastle…so he said: ?mentally I cannot do it again and come into the Middle East at 40 degrees – I need time to think about my future.’
“The door is open for him, not because he’s Mark Viduka but because he is a good football player and he has ten months to show me that he is good enough to be a part of the selection.”
Verbeek is meanwhile confident his makeshift defence will be competitive against the Irish strike pairing of Robbie Keane and Kevin Doyle, who is over a hernia injury.
Rhys Williams will play his second game at right back and, with Lucas Neill looking some distance from match fitness, Jade North will partner Patrick Kisnorbo in the heart of the Australian defence, with David Carney slotting in at left back.
Just as importantly, with holding midfielder Vince Grella out, Mile Jedinak plays in front of the back four.
“We miss some central defenders because they’re all injured or they play in Australia,” Verbeek insisted.
“We will give everything to make it a very interesting game for the fans and a fantastic test for Ireland for their very important game they play next month in Cyprus.”
Irish coach Giovanni Trapattoni for his part rebuffed suggestions from his assistant Liam Brady that his first eleven will be the same which take the field in the World Cup qualifier in Nicosia in three weeks.
“It is not the team that will play in Cyprus,” Trapattoni said. “Don’t think ahead to the future.”
Trapattoni insisted the door is not shut on the senior players not in his squad such as Steve Finnan, Lee Carsley and Clinton Morrison, but suggested that the latter will struggle to be included in future squads because he is similar in style to Doyle.
“My rule is never say never. I don’t forget Steve Finnan. At the moment we have to play with 11 players. (Caleb) Folan is a different type of striker, for playing a different way. Morrison’s movement is like Doyle.”
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