Hrustic’s return poses selection headache for Socceroos before Oman clash

The return of Ajdin Hrustic from suspension has posed a major selection headache for Socceroos coach Graham Arnold, who is weighing up whether to plunge the Bundesliga star back into the first team or stick with a winning formula in midfield.

The Eintracht Frankfurt player missed the 4-0 win over Vietnam last week due to suspension but is set to make his return against Oman, adding fresh legs and quality to Arnold’s squad. The conundrum, however, is who Arnold sacrifices to make way for Hrustic.

Ajdin Hrustic (10) returns for the Socceroos but where does he fit in? Credit:AP

The midfield trio of Jackson Irvine, Aaron Mooy and Tom Rogic made light work of Vietnam in Melbourne on Thursday, with the latter widely regarded as best on show. Rogic dazzled in the creative midfield role, providing an assist, scoring one and was controversially denied another by the VAR. The form of Rogic could force Hrustic to be deployed deeper, as a holding midfielder, if he starts at all.

“It’s something that we are still thinking about, still looking at,” Arnold said. “Ajdin has shown in the past that he can play as a double six for us and he can play in that role Tommy plays for us.”

One certainty is Arnold won’t push Rogic higher up into the forward line to accommodate Mooy, Irvine and the return of Hrustic, despite the goal-scoring threat of the Celtic man.

“Tommy Rogic is playing a role with Ange [Postecoglou] that is very comfortable for Tommy and he feels great playing there, so why would I change it?” Arnold said.

Fullback Aziz Behich will return to the starting line-up despite 21-year-old Joel King impressing on debut in last week’s win. King’s first Socceroos match was hailed as “one of the best” entrances to international football seen by Arnold but the coach is cautious of asking too much from a youngster who also finalised a moved from Sydney to Danish club Odense two days ago.

“Aziz will come in. Joel has had a big week emotionally and you can just see a little bit in his eyes, he’s a bit fatigued. He had a great debut, I have never seen a more mature debut from a young kid in my life,” Arnold said. “Emotionally he [King] has gone through a lot in the last week and it’s good to have Aziz back.”

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