- throwing lifelines to Coyne, Vargas, Petkovic; Jedinak
- thoroughly establishing 'potential guys' like Holman and Valeri in the squad
- hauling into the spotlight starlets who not so long ago were quite secondary to the aforementioned group of young guns: Holland, Topor-Stanley, Musialik, Zadkovich, Spiranovic, Djite, and, above all, Troisi.
When you consider that we've still got Patafta, Vidosic, Leijer and other previously heralded guys coming through (and probably now having to make up a bit of ground on the others), the future of the national team seems to be in a fair state at the very least.
The experience being given to both the younger players and the older, wiser lot, suggests pretty careful risk management and multi-level goal-setting on the coaching staff's behalf. Yes, we've got to think about the World Cup qualifiers and the squad for the finals of the tournament if we make it that far, but we've also got to think about the logistics of friendly internationals (with our 'home' locations on either side of the planet), other important tournaments (the Asian Cup, the Olympics, various youth championships) and of course the long-term future.
I still think we're yet to find the next 20-something up-and-comer who waltzes into the squad and changes the composition of the starting team (ala Tim Cahill or Jason Culina in recent years, or even Scott Chipperfield, in a sense). But maybe 'find' is not the right word. We've probably already seen who the next big thing is but they're yet to establish themselves on a regular basis. Maybe it's McDonald. Or David Carney might just keep getting better. I don't know. But the squad seems about ready to accommodate a riser. I'm not sure it'll be an 18-year old. Historically our players don't seem to bloom until they're in their early-20s. Kewell was a massive exception. But who knows? It'd sure be a nice surprise.