FORMER Hearts defender Ryan McGowan looks set to step into the right-back role for Australia after Ivan Franjic’s World Cup was ended by a hamstring tear sustained in the Socceroos’ 3-1 defeat to Chile.
McGowan, who usually plays at centre-back, replaced Franjic soon after half-time on Friday and coach Ange Postecoglou hinted he would start at full-back against the Netherlands in Porto Alegre on Wednesday.
“Ryan is a solution, there could be a couple of different things in the way we approach things,” he said. “Holland represents a different problem to Chile, so we’ll have a look in the next couple of days.”
Australia were encouraged by their battling display against Chile but the Dutch will present a much greater challenge judging by their performance in the 5-1 win over world champions Spain in the Group B opener.
Postecoglou may end up regretting his last-minute decision to leave Luke Wilkshire, who has won 80 caps for his country at right-back, out of his final 23-man squad.
McGowan has some experience of the role from his days at Hearts but was given a torrid time by Brazil’s Neymar when he lined up on the right side of the defence in Australia’s 6-0 humbling in Brasilia last year.
Franjic, 26, admitted he was devastated after scans confirmed a tear to his left hamstring.
“Shattered to get the bad news that ends my @fifaworldcup but I would not change anything for the world,” he said on Instagram.
“Everything happens for a reason in life and this will only make me stronger.”