Buckley confident youngsters will come through
Football Federation Australia chief Ben Buckley believes playing two friendlies in three days next month will give the Socceroos' younger players the chance to shine.
Australia are scheduled to face Serbia in Melbourne on 7 June, just two days after meeting New Zealand in Adelaide. But neither Buckley nor coach Holger Osieck feel the tight scheduling will diminish either game.
"We've spoken to Holger about that and he's got no doubt that the team will be able to perform," Buckley said. "I think a great opportunity exists for more than just the regular players to participate and get an opportunity.
"I think we saw the emergence of new talent in Doha, we've seen the emergence of new talent when we played in Germany. I think the fans are looking forward to seeing the next generation of Socceroos. You'll see a full-strength Socceroos team in Melbourne. Clearly there will be a fairly deep bench, which will give new players a chance to show their talent and shine."
Australia mainstay Tim Cahill will not be part of the squad, with Buckley confirming that FFA expects he will ask to be excused because of a heavy recent schedule.
"My understanding at the moment is that Tim probably won't be participating in these matches because he's had a very intense season and an intense number of off-seasons. If he changes his mind, no doubt that will be a great bonus. But we don't anticipate Tim playing," he said.
Buckley was confident Serbia will name close to a full-strength side for the friendly in Melbourne. He also felt that despite not being a ground custom built for rectangular sports, that Etihad Stadium was the best venue for the match.
"The great thing about Melbourne is we have a wonderful menu of stadia to use. We believe that Etihad Stadium will be the right size for the sort of crowd that we expect. We've got AAMI Park at 30,000, we certainly expect more to attend the match then AAMI has the capacity to accommodate," he said.
"It's a wonderful testament to what facilities we have here in Melbourne, given we have the MCG at 100,000, AAMI at 30,000 and Etihad at 50,000. If gives us the opportunity to allocate our matches based on where we think the optimal crowd will be."
Serbian fans have built a disruptive reputation for their behaviour at other events, including the Australian Open tennis but Buckley was confident that any crowd issues will be kept to a minimum by strong security and backed the fans to do the right thing.
"Etihad Stadium has fantastic security arrangements in place. We will work with them. We don't anticipate that there will be any significant issues that can't be dealt with either prior to the match or during the match," he said. "I'm confident that any fan who comes to the match will be there and participate in the right spirit."