Why Cahill’s farewell could starve Socceroos of game time
TIM Cahill's farewell game against Lebanon could mean certain strikers miss out on an opportunity to prove themselves to new coach Graham Arnold.
Socceroos fans, and even Cahill himself, are unsure of how many minutes he'll get on the park in his last hurrah on November 20.
But while the Socceroos legend deserves a fitting send-off, the match is a genuine chance for young players to prove themselves to Arnold. And a Cahill swan song may starve them of that opportunity.
The new Socceroos coach recently took a 31-man squad consisting mainly of European-based players to Turkey for a training camp, with Cahill not named.
"This camp is more about me getting to see the European boys up close," said Arnold.
The former Sydney FC boss would have undoubtedly used the camp and the upcoming games to keep a close eye on the new faces in the squad ahead of the 2019 Asian Cup, but may have to reshuffle his players after Cahill was parachuted in.
Whether Australia's all-time leading goalscorer gets five minutes or 15 minutes, or even a full 90, certain forwards won't get the chance to strut their stuff in what will be their last opportunity to impress the boss.
And in a Socceroos team where a dominant No.9 is needed, every minute of every game counts when it comes to cementing that position.
Here are the main players that could get the axe for Australia's leading goalscorer on November 20
In the eyes of many, Jamie Maclaren is Australia's best out-and-out striker.
Unfortunate to miss out on an original spot in the Socceroos' World Cup squad, he was later recalled by Bert van Marwijk after Tomi Juric picked up an injury.
The 25-year-old has a prolific goalscoring record in the A-League, before finding his new home with Hibs in Scotland.
Maclaren has been plying his trade in Edinburgh's north after securing a second loan spell from German side SV Darmstadt 98.
Many feel as though he has never been given a proper opportunity to prove himself at international level, and the 2019 Asian Cup could finally be the place where he makes an impression for the Socceroos - if given the opportunity.
The tricky winger was used by Bert van Marwijk as a striker at stages in the World Cup and showed promising signs.
Cahill himself said that he has been "grooming" and "nurturing" certain players in the Socceroos squad for years now, and one of those players was Mathew Leckie.
The 27-year-old looked dangerous on the right during the World Cup, but it was up top where he trouble defences the most.
Fans were begging for van Marwijk to push him into a higher role, and with Cahill on the way out, a void upfront must be filled.
The games against Korea and Lebanon would be the perfect opportunity for Leckie to get 90 minutes under his belt as a frontman.
The former Western Sydney Wanderers No.9 started for the Socceroos against Peru in the World Cup, but like his fellow teammates failed to score in open play for the entire tournament.
The 6 ft 3in striker has eight international goals to his name and is the likely replacement for the exiting Tim Cahill.
But Arnold is very familiar with Juric and publicly announced that he wants to use the games and the camp get a look at the players he hasn't seen, which could push the FC Luzern man out of the picture.
The friendly is also the perfect opportunity to grant an uncapped youngster their first Socceroos appearance.
A game such as this would be the ideal platform to introduce a young, hungry prospect and get them integrated into the team ahead of the Asian Games.
19-year-old SC Heerenveen forward John Iredale was included in Arnold's 31-man-squad heading to Turkey, alongside 22-year-old FC Midtjylland striker Awer Mabil.
Both men have shown good enough form for their clubs to earn them a spot on the plane to the training camp, but they may miss out on a chance to show their potential in the upcoming friendly.
The Socceroos play South Korea at Suncorp Stadium on November 17 before travelling down to Syndey to face Lebanon on the 20th in what will be Cahill's final farewell.
Get ready for cricket like never before. FREE Sport HD + Entertainment until the first 4K cricket ball as part of 3 months free on a 12 month plan. SIGN UP TODAY. T&Cs apply.