International Friendly Preview: Australia v Ecuador
By Football News
A new-look Australia side will test themselves against Ecuador in an international friendly in London on Wednesday.
Ange Postecoglou's second game in charge of the Socceroos sees his team taking on South American opposition – just like they will when they meet Chile at the FIFA World Cup.
But his squad is filled with largely inexperienced names, especially on the international stage.
Chris Herd (Aston Villa), Massimo Luongo (Swindon Town) and Curtis Good (Dundee United) could make their debuts.
They are part of a squad missing ever-present names, including the likes of Lucas Neill and Mark Bresciano.
Preparing for Brazil 2014 and beyond – perhaps with an eye to the 2015 Asian Cup on Australian soil – Postecoglou has a big ask to be competitive at the World Cup.
The clash at The Den shapes as an opportunity for several players to stake their claims for spots on the plane to Brazil.
Perhaps most exciting for Australia fans is a likely starting place for Tom Rogic, who has taken the national team coach's advice and found game time at Melbourne Victory.
On loan from Celtic, the 21-year-old attacking midfielder is touted for a big future and should get an opportunity to show off the touch and skill that earned him a move to the Scottish giants.
At 34, Tim Cahill is the oldest member of the squad and should play some part, with only Mathew Leckie likely to start ahead of him up front.
Veteran midfielders Matt McKay, Mile Jedinak and Mark Milligan would expect to feature, but there are youngsters eyeing their spots.
Luongo, 21, should get the chance to show the passing ability that earned him a contract with Tottenham in 2011.
James Holland and Oliver Bozanic may also get their opportunities in the deeper midfield roles, while Postecoglou may want to look at Good, Jason Davidson and Matt Spiranovic in defence.
Australia were positive in Postecoglou's first game in charge – a 1-0 win over Costa Rica – and will want to improve on the way they kept possession and built up play in that clash in November.
As for who will captain in Neill's absence, Postecoglou has no interest in the conversation.
Ecuador, who have also qualified for the World Cup, come into their first match of the year in decent form.
Reinaldo Rueda's men drew 2-2 with Honduras last time out and held Argentina to a scoreless draw in November last year.
In October, Ecuador suffered a 2-1 loss to Chile in a World Cup qualifier, with Australia likely to find out a little about just how dangerous Jorge Sampaoli's men will be in Brazil.
Captain Antonio Valencia (Manchester United) will be the most recognisable name in the Ecuador squad and is just one of three European-based players in the 20-man team.
Felipe Caicedo, once of Basel and Manchester City, is now at Al Jazira and likely to lead the line for Rueda's side.
Chile are a step above Ecuador and Australia will find out how good arguably the weakest team in their group at Brazil 2014 are.