Australia stress continuity for Scotland test

Lucas Neill will captain Australia at Easter Road

Scotland v Australia

Venue:
Easter Road Stadium
Date:
Wednesday, 15 August
Kick-off:
20:00 BST
Coverage:
Live commentary on BBC Radio Scotland & BBC Sport website. TV highlights on BBC One Scotland 22:45

Scotland can expect no mercy from the Socceroos as Craig Levein's men attempt to bounce back from the 5-1 pounding they received at the hands of the United States in May.

Much has been made about a possible first Australia cap for Hearts utility man Ryan McGowan in his adopted home city - and Middlesbrough striker Scott McDonald being given another chance to shine, in a country where he did just that for Celtic and Motherwell, on the international stage.

The visitors who assembled at their Dalmahoy training base from the four corners of the globe have also done so minus two of their most familiar faces - Harry Kewell and Tim Cahill.

However, coach Holger Osiek is in no mood to choose an experimental line-up, the German stressing the need for continuity of selection ahead of their World Cup qualifier against Jordan on 11 September.

It means that 34-year-old Lucas Neill continues as skipper despite the former Blackburn and Everton defender being without a club.

With Kewell also seeking new employers and Cahill missing due to Major League Soccer commitments following his transfer to New York Red Bulls from Everton, Osiek is short of options up front.

The former Fenerbahce and Canada coach surprised many back in Oz by turning to McDonald, who has yet to score in his 25 international outings and who was left out of Tony Mowbray's Boro squad for Saturday's season opener against Bury.

McDonald is likely to partner Alex Brosque, of J-League outfit Shimzu S-Pulse, as Robbie Kruse has yet to establish himself at Fortuna Dusseldorf and Melbourne's Archie Thompson is in his veteran years.

Despite his national coach having stressed that McDonald was being given "a second chance", the 28-year-old striker was dismissing any personal pressure as he assessed the match at Easter Road.

"Both nations have got some serious campaigns coming up," he told BBC Scotland.

"We've got World Cup qualifiers coming up and it will be a good chance for both managers to have a look at players vying for a spot in those games.

"Obviously, we have the experienced players that everyone knows like Mark Schwarzer and Lucas Neill.

"But we've got quite a few younger ones. Alex Brosque, who plays up front as well, and has done really well of late,

"Brett Holmann, who has just signed for Aston Villa from AZ Alkmaar, is a very talented player and they are two players to watch out for."

Ryan McGowan in action for Hearts
McGowan could start at right-back for Australia at Easter Road

In addition to Fulham goalkeeper Schwarzer, other familiar faces to British fans are Reading number one Adam Federici, Middlesbrough defender Rhys Williams, midfielders Mile Jedinak, of Crystal Palace, and Neil Kilkenny, of Bristol City, while defender Luke Wilkshire last week helped Dinamo Moscow knock Dundee United out of the Europa League.

"We've got a lot of experience in the squad still and we've got a couple of young boys who've come in, like Ryan McGowan, so it will be interesting to see what these guys can bring to the squad," added McDonald.

McGowan could benefit from the late withdrawal through injury of Aston Villa 23-year-old Chris Herd, who like the Hearts man is uncapped and has Scottish parents but who has resisted attempts to persuade him to play for Wednesday's opponents instead.

Both are utility men, capable of performing in defence or midfield, but suggestions from the Australian camp were that they were vying for the right-back berth.

McGowan is well prepared should the Tartan Army turn against him given his choice of international colours, the game being played at the home of city rivals Hibernian, against whom he scored in Hearts' 5-1 Scottish Cup final victory in May.

"Every time I have gone there, I have not been well liked or well supported, so it is not going to be any different on Wednesday night," said the 22-year-old.

"But it is something I am really looking forward to.

"There was a bit of chat about Scotland being interested in me.

"I have always said that Australia was my choice. That is where I was born and have grown up and played all my junior football."

Other possible Aussie debutants are Borussia Dortmund goalkeeper Mitch Langerak and versatile Heracles Almelo midfielder Jason Davidson, whose own roots are not in question. The 21-year-old will follow in the footsteps of his 79-times capped father, Alan, should he make an appearance.

Australia's standing in world football has much improved since Davidson Snr's days and they will be looking to repeat their 2-0 win the last time they visited Scotland, in 2000, and justify their world ranking of 24, which is 22 places above the hosts.

While the Socceroos have won six of their 10 matches since McDonald last featured, Levein can take heart from his opponents having lost one and drawn two in their latest three outings.

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