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'Mature' Socceroos improving on the road

AAP logoAAP 9/11/2016 Emma Kemp

Veteran Mark Milligan has put the Socceroos' improved away form in Asia down to maturity as they push to finish the year in a favourable position to qualify for Russia 2018.

Australia are undefeated on the road in the final phase of World Cup qualifying, having toppled United Arab Emirates before drawing 2-2 with Saudi Arabia.

Last month's lacklustre 1-1 home draw with Japan saw them cede their position at the top of Group B.

But should they beat Thailand in Bangkok next Tuesday, and Japan defeat new leaders Saudi on the same night, Ange Postecoglou's second-placed men will close out 2016 back on the summit.

Apart from setting them up well for the business end starting in March next year, Milligan said a win against Thailand would demonstrate how far the team have come.

"Compared to previously we've been much better away," Milligan said.

"Saudi and UAE, they're not easy places to go and they are improving as footballing nations as well.

"It says a lot about this group, about the attitude we travel with and the way we go into games.

"I don't think we've gone into a game looking to take anything but three points and that positive attitude is showing."

Winless Thailand present arguably the most straightforward challenge thus far, especially given the Socceroos' extended preparation in Bangkok.

Yet it's also important Australia win to maintain their place as one of the top two teams.

The entire 23-man squad have now arrived in Bangkok and underwent their first training session together at SCG Stadium on Wednesday.

It follows news that first-choice striker Tomi Juric will be sidelined for up to six weeks with the knee injury that forced him out of the match.

Scans confirmed the in-form forward, who scored against both Iraq and Saudi, has sustained ligament damage to his right knee playing for Swiss side FC Luzern.

Surgery won't be needed, but taking into account the Swiss Super League's long Christmas break Juric probably won't play any minutes until February.

In the unlikely worst-case scenario, he could be in a race against time to regain match fitness for Australia's next set of qualifiers against Iraq and United Arab Emirates in March.

In the short term at least, it has left Postecoglou down on attacking options with Tim Cahill already left at home due to muscle soreness in his Achilles.

Axed China-based striker Apo Giannou has been handed a reprieve in place of Juric, though Brisbane striker Jamie Maclaren must be considered the frontrunner to start given he has regular game time and has been scoring in the A-League.

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