‘Both are out’: Socceroos lose two stars in win

FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifier - Australia v Lebanon
Riley McGree leaves the field injured. Picture: Matt King/Getty Images

The Socceroos are facing an injury crisis ahead of their World Cup qualification rematch with Lebanon after being hit by a double blow in the first half of their 2-0 victory on Thursday night in Sydney.

Keanu Baccus put Australia in command with a screamer in the fifth minute before midfielder Riley McGree rolled an ankle shortly afterwards on Thursday night.

McGree ended the match with his foot in a moon boot after being replaced by Jordan Bos in the 16th minute, but the winger also had to be pulled from the action just before halftime due to a knee injury.

Socceroos head coach Graham Arnold expects to be without the creative duo as he continues to search for the key to unlocking opposition defences before taking on Lebanon again on Tuesday.

“I’d say both are out,” Arnold said of hopes that McGree and Bos might make a quick recovery.

“Both late arrivals. I think they arrived about 1am Wednesday morning, and it was a bit tough to take for them early on in the game.

FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifier - Australia v Lebanon
Jordan Bos feels the pain. Picture: Matt King/Getty Images

“Obviously I used two sub windows in the first half, so I only had one left in the second half, so it was making sure that we got that sub right.

“But at the end of the day, it was a good performance, but we can do better, and we must do better.”

The Socceroos started with in-form A-League striker Adam Taggart returning to the line-up for the first time in more than two years and partnering the emerging Kusini Yengi up front.

Veteran Mitch Duke sat among the substitutes with minimal game time in his legs even as the J-League gets under way in Japan.

Arnold explained that fitness as much as form was behind his decision to play two up top, in a shift away from his preferred formation with a single centre-forward.

“The only reason really is because of the injuries to all the wingers. If I had the wingers, then maybe I wouldn’t have done it,” Arnold said of the change in formation.

“But the fact that I’ve got more number 10s and number 8s … I think we needed the two 9s because of the lack of wingers.”

FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifier - Australia v Lebanon
Riley McGree leaves the field injured. Picture: Matt King/Getty Images

Baccus will also miss the return leg against Lebanon after scoring his first international goal but later picking up a booking that cost him a suspension.

But the Socceroos will be able to call on Craig Goodwin, with the winger recovering from an illness that ruled him out of the first clash.

The 23rd-ranked Socceroos can seal their spot in the third and final round of Asia’s World Cup qualifying pathway with two matches still to play with another victory over Lebanon.

“(Goodwin) is so good he’s already down in Canberra waiting for us,” Arnold said. “He’ll be available on Tuesday.”