By STEVE SPINKS
LISMORE soccer's favourite sons believe goal-sneak Harry Kewell should start from the bench in the massive World Cup qualifier between Australia and Uruguay in Montevideo on Sunday.
Craig and Paul Foster, both former Goonellabah players who scaled the heights of the sport, believe Kewell would best serve Australia from the bench.
The Liverpool striker has not had much game time in the English Premier League following a long battle with injury. In fact, Kewell could well be playing for his career after Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez mooted a possible trade to English rival Aston Villa.
But both Fosters wouldn't hesitate to have him in the squad despite his lack of match fitness.
"Hiddink (Guus ? Australian coach) may start him simply because the guy has a history of scoring in big matches," former Socceroo captain Craig Foster said.
"That goes way back to when he was 17 or 18 and he scored a goal in the away leg in Teheran against Iran in the 1-all draw.
"I was there and I know what an enormously difficult match that was.
"He also scored in the return leg in Melbourne and the work he did down the left side against Uruguay in 2001 set up a penalty that won us the match.
"I wouldn't risk him for the start of the play-off because he's not match fit, but once 45 minutes is gone I'd bring him on."
Paul Foster, who played professionally in Australia and Asia before turning his hand to coaching with the Australian Institute of Sport, agrees with his brother.
"To throw him into a game of this magnitude would be like throwing him to the wolves," he said.
"If he does travel to Uruguay he'd probably play 20 minutes or half-an-hour at the end to try to pinch an away goal." (Away goals count double if the aggregate scores are level after the two legs of the play-off).
Whether Kewell starts off the bench or doesn't play at all is only speculation, but the Fosters believe the mystery surrounding the final make-up of the team only helps Australia.
"The beauty of having Hiddink in charge, I've got to say, is all the guessing surrounding the team," Craig Foster said.
"With Farina in charge, all of us could have chosen the starting side three months ago."
"He (Hiddink) has tampered with tactics and we no longer have a predictable plan or team," he said.
Tactically, Paul Foster would go for a stacked defensive effort in Montevideo with four or five defenders with the idea of applying more pressure in attack during the return leg. Craig believes there needs to be a balance between a sustained defensive effort and attack.
"Personally, I'd still play two strikers because I think it's been shown over the past 15 years that we're not expert enough at playing with one," he said.
"I'd have (Mark) Viduka and Archie Thompson up front.
"Thompson's been in great goal-scoring form for Australia and I think whoever we play up front will need to do an enormous amount of defensive work.
"He's fast, mobile and fit, which will suit playing against Uruguay."