Camp an eye-opener for new Socceroos
By Sam Lienert
17:41 AEST Wed Nov 28 2012

Experienced Socceroo Michael Thwaite says the squad's many newcomers are on a sharp learning curve as they prepare for next week's East Asian Cup qualifiers.

Of the provisional squad of 24, to be trimmed to 20 on Thursday, 14 are either yet to represent the national side or made their debuts in the recent friendly against South Korea.

Thwaite, 29, whose seven Socceroos caps make him a relative international veteran, said the squad demographic had made this week's training camp in Sydney an intensive course in coach Holger Osieck's strategies.

"It's been well talked about how he likes to play and everyone can see it on television," Thwaite told AAP on Wednesday.

"But when it's put into practice it's a lot harder for the new players obviously.

"So we've just been training on that shape in defence and attack.

"In international football, from what I've learnt, there's a lot of respect shown between both teams and you do get time on the ball, but those mistakes that you make or mistiming gets punished very quickly.

"That's why it's so important for that structure to be in place so you can't get broken down.

"I think it's been a real eye-opener for the new players."

It has meant the likes of Thwaite have had key roles both in setting the standard at training and ensuring the youngsters feel comfortable.

It also makes him one of several potential captaincy candidates, although the Perth Glory defender was reluctant to speculate on that possibility.

"I've captained at club level and feel really comfortable being a leader regardless of being captain or not. I think that's what Holger wants," he said.

Most, if not all, of the eventual 20-man squad are likely to get playing time, given the Socceroos' crammed schedule of four matches in seven days against Hong Kong, North Korea, Guam and Taiwan, in Hong Kong.

But Thwaite said the impression players left on Osieck would be equally about how they performed at training.

Thwaite predicted the tight fixturing would suit Australia.

"That's one area Australia's always been good at, the physical side of playing out the 90-plus minutes, and I think that's one advantage we'll have," he said.

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