Mark Milligan back in contention and raring for chance to take on Brazil

JUNE 11 2017 – 3:38PM

Michael Lynch

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Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou has said that every one of his 23-man squad will see some game time in the frantic three weeks of action that kicked off with Australia’s win over Saudi Arabia last Thursday.

Defensive utility Mark Milligan is hoping that his boss is true to his word and he gets a chance to shine at the MCG on Tuesday night in the glamour friendly against Brazil.

Milligan could be one of several changes to the starting line up that beat the Saudis 3-2 in Adelaide last week in a critical World Cup qualifier as Posteocglou looks to refine his blend and give all players experience in challenging circumstances before they face Germany, Chile and Cameroon later this month in the Confederations Cup in Russia.

The former Melbourne Victory captain – he led the navy blues to the title in 2015 before leaving to play in the cashed up UAE league – was suspended for the Saudi game and had to look on from the AFL coaches box high above the pitch.

One other player who will be hoping to be in from the start is second-half substitute Aziz Behich, another ex Melburnian who played for both Victory and Melbourne City during his time in the A-League.

Behich replaced the injured left back Brad Smith at half-time in Adelaide and made quite an impact.

Smith’s hamstring tear means he is now ruled out not just of the Brazil game but of the upcoming Confederations Cup.

His place in the squad is being taken by youngster Alex Gersbach, who now plays his club football in Norway with Rosenberg having made his name early in his career for Sydney FC  in the A League.

Gersbach will join the squad in Russia, to where the players travel on Wednesday after the Brazil match.

Milligan says the win over the Saudis, which put Australia back on track for a direct qualification spot to the World Cup, has lifted the mood around the camp.

“I hope to start. Everyone is available, except for Brad. The Brazil match  is a massive game for us,” he said.

“We are in a pretty good place leading into August. That was a very important result for us the other night. They (Saudi Arabia) are a very good side, and a lot of people underestimate that and don’t understand the quality that we face. This group is tracking very nicely at the moment.”

Milligan says there won’t be any change in tactics nor mindset just because Australia is facing the five-time world champions.

“We will go into it like we do any other match. We want to implement our game style on them. We have targets we want to hit … we want to get a good result. I think it will be a very hard fought match. They are coming off a disappointing result against Argentina.

“Our goal is to make sure our performance, first and foremost, is good. If we can get that as close to right as possible then the result will be there or thereabouts.”

Milligan says that ever since Postecoglou took charge – a period in which he has been a regular squad member – the coach has worked hard at developing a group mentality and picking flexible players who can all cover for each other.

“We will go to the Confederations Cup and we will have a game every three days. One thing Ange has worked very hard at over the past three years is having players in camp that are ready to play. I think he’s been quite public that there are two or three line ups that he can pick,” he said.

“I am not sure which team will face Brazil but one thing I am sure of is that whatever team goes out there to face Brazil will be doing the same things we always do.”

Milligan, at 31, is one of the elder statesmen of this squad with 55 caps and five goals for his country. He is at the end of his contract with UAE based club Baniyas and is considering his options for his next move.

Milligan hasn’t completely given up on his ambition of spending some time in one of Europe’s major leagues, but acknowledges that with his age and his non EU passport the window is closing on his opportunity.

“I  am focusing on this at the moment. Future wise I am not sure. I want to make sure I put my best foot forward in camp … if we play some good football and get a couple of good results it will be good for all of the boys.”

A return to Victory might be an option, but the feeling is that Milligan would rather give himself one last shot at a bigger league.

“I just want to be in a place where I can play the most football and be in the best possible condition in April and May next year. There are a few things we are looking at, I am in no rush to make a decision a the moment. There are a lot of things that come into it.”

* Star Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus will miss the game on Tuesday night after fracturing an eye socket in a clash with his Manchester City teammate Nicolas Otamenndi in Argentina’s 1-0 victory over Brazil.


Source : The Canberra Times

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