Ange Postecoglou knows the shape of his back four as he heads into Saturday night’s derby clash with Melbourne Heart.
He’s just not sure how the rest of his side will line up as he seeks to cope with the absence of the midfielder central to his team’s structure, Mark Milligan.
Milligan is away with the Socceroos in Europe so will miss the Etihad Stadium season opener, and quite possibly the round two clash with Adelaide the following Friday. Postecoglou is weighing up a plethora of options as he decides who will partner Leigh Broxham in one of the two deeper midfield roles.
Jimmy Jeggo lined up alongside Broxham in the most recent pre-season friendly, the 1-0 loss to Adelaide, but Kevin Muscat, Postecoglou’s assistant, was adamant after that game that nothing was set in concrete and a different combination could be chosen for the Heart clash.
Postecoglou has no shortage of options.
”There’s still a couple of things I am tossing up and much will still depend on training this week. It’s not just about replacing Millsy in the middle of the park, but how we set up in the front half of the pitch as a result. The back four will probably stay as it is and Broxy will be one of two in the centre. The rest I will decide later in the week.
”Jeggo is an option, but we could drop Mitch Nichols a bit deeper and get him to play there if we wanted. Maybe even Scott Galloway could be considered,” the coach said, although Galloway is away on Young Socceroo duty and does not return to Melbourne until Wednesday.
Nevertheless, the fact that he would consider the teenage defensive utility for such a role shows he is held in high regard.
”I think eventually he will be best suited as a full-back, but he’s good enough to play further up the park if needed.”
Where Nichols slots in will also affect the forward line. Postecoglou has a number of talented attackers to choose from – Archie Thompson, Connor Pain, James Troisi and the fit again Gui Finkler – as well as Nichols, so playing the latter deeper would give one of them an opportunity that he wouldn’t get were Jeggo selected.
Postecoglou says he is happy with the way Chilean international Pablo Contreras has fitted in in a short time with the club and he is looking to him to provide leadership as well as being able to play out from the back.
”He’s a real professional. His family is settled now and they have found a place to live. He’s training well and we have managed to get almost two full games out of him in a short time to help him get to know his teammates.”
Also missing on Saturday will be striker Kosta Barbarouses, Victory’s New Zealand international. The All Whites are holding a one-week camp in Los Angeles before taking on Trinidad and Tobago in Port of Spain on October 15. It is a crucial part of the Kiwis’ preparation for their playoff in November against a Central American opponent for a place in the World Cup.
Heart coach John Aloisi will be able to sit on the bench and defender Patrick Gerhardt is eligible to play. The bans they picked up at the end of last season were served in the pre-season.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.