Carle to get first start for Socceroos

Socceroo caretaker coach Rob Baan will hand reigning Johnny Warren Medal winner Nick Carle his first start for the Socceroos in Saturday’s (Sunday AEDST) friendly international against Nigeria in London.

Qantas Socceroo caretaker coach Rob Baan will hand reigning Johnny Warren Medal winner Nick Carle his first start for the Socceroos in Saturday-s (Sunday AEDST) friendly international against Nigeria in London.

Carle, who has made six appearances off the bench previously for the national team, gets his chance with a number of first choice regulars unavailable and is keen to show he warrants more starts in the future.

The former Newcastle Jets attacking midfielder, who turns 26 next week, has been in good form for his new Turkish club Genclerbirligi, starting every game since his off-season move following the Asian Cup.

"Nick trained very well at the Asian Cup and then took his chance when he played," said Baan, from the team-s hotel base in London. “He deserves his chance and I am looking forward to seeing how far he and few of the other boys have progressed since the Asia Cup.”

The withdrawal of Tim Cahill from the squad through injury may also prompt Baan to start Harry Kewell after initially thinking he would bring him on later in the match. Kewell has trained superbly since coming into camp and has looked good since his return from injury for Liverpool.

"I was thinking that maybe I would play Harry Kewell for the second half, but he has trained very strongly and now could be a starting player for this match."

The match against the African heavyweights gives Baan the chance to run the rule over several players with the World Cup qualifiers starting early next year in mind. Players like Scott McDonald, Josh Kennedy, David Carney and Carl Valeri will also be in contention for starting berths and have the chance to impress.

"This match is a chance for the young players to prove they are up to this level," Baan said. "We are missing some of the major players through injury but we know what they can do. This gives us an opportunity to see what others can do like Scott McDonald, who I am very interested in seeing what he is capable of.

"Nigeria is a very good team and they will prove to be a very tough opponent, so our players will have to perform very well if they are to get a good result."

McDonald has been in sensational form for Celtic so far this season, already scoring two hat-tricks in the Scottish Premier League and scoring a sensational late winner against AC Milan in the Champions League.

Baan has some interesting decisions to make, especially in the left fullback position and the second strikers role. The return of Scott Chipperfield, after he missed the Asia Cup, has been eagerly awaited, but David Carney made that position his own with two terrific performances there at that tournament and Baan may decide to stay with the former Sydney FC midfielder. Up front, the options are to play the tall Josh Kennedy, or go for the experience of Mile Sterjovski, who has also been in good form since his move to Turkey with the other Genclerbirligi team.

One good omen for the team could be Baan himself, who is yet to lose as a senior national coach, winning the only two games as caretaker Dutch coach back in the 1980-s.

The match at Fulham-s Craven Cottage will be the last international for 2007 and can be seen live on Fox Sports, with coverage starting at 1.30am (Sunday morning) and kick-off at 2.00am.

The FFA website - will also have a full LIVE MATCH UPDATE for those unable to watch the TV coverage.