Socceroos lose Souttar for Ecuador rematch but could we see Irankunda?

Towering defender Harry Souttar will miss the Socceroos’ second game against Ecuador after returning to England early to manage an ankle knock.

Souttar, 24, was hurt late in Friday night’s 3-1 win and fellow defender Bailey Wright will replace him in the heart of defence at Marvel Stadium on Tuesday night.

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Socceroos head coach Graham Arnold said Souttar’s exclusion was precautionary and he would have been “touch and go” to play, but his withdrawal allowed him to return to Premier League club Leicester City.

“Harry copped a knock late in the game,” Arnold told reporters at Federation Square on Monday. 

“The medical staff obviously reviewed Harry to see how he was and said that he wouldn’t be available probably for Tuesday night. 

“So he’s gone back home early to try to get himself ready for his game on the weekend.

“(It was) in his ankle. So the swelling of it would have taken too long to come down and he hadn’t been able to train.

“It was touch-and-go. He probably felt himself that if I asked him and said ’50-50, which way?’ then (he should) be more cautious and miss one game.”

Wright has played consistently at Championship club Rotherham United since joining on loan from Sunderland in January and is set to line up alongside Kye Rowles in the heart of defence.

“Look, at the end of the day, you’ve got to have more faith than just one person, one player and that gives an opportunity for other players to come in,” Arnold said.

“Bailey’s obviously doing great at his club but also he’s done great for us every time he’s played and started.”

Arnold flagged “five or six changes” to his starting line up, with dashing midfielder/winger Riley McGree to start after missing Friday’s game through illness.

“I can’t wait,” Arnold said.

“He’s been in unbelievable form with Middlesbrough.

“Middlesbrough are on the edge of hopefully promotion (which would) give us another English Premier League player alongside Harry.

“Riley’s form has just been incredible.”

Arnold wouldn’t be drawn on whether 17-year-old Nestor Irankunda would debut, saying only: “We’ll see.”