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Sainsbury, coach’s son-in-law, eyes Socceroos captaincy

Sydney (AFP) – Trent Sainsbury has put his hand up to be the new Socceroos captain, but his father-in-law, new coach Graham Arnold, is unlikely to make a long-term decision before their defence of the Asian Cup in January.

Australia has only had two permanent skippers over the past decade — Lucas Neill and Mile Jedinak — and Arnold is keen to make the right choice.

He oversees his first game in charge against Kuwait in Kuwait City later Monday (Tuesday Australian time) and plans to trial three players in their three friendlies before the Asian Cup tournament.

“I’m looking to use three different captains over the next few games,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald Monday.

PSV Eindhoven centre back Sainsbury is likely to be one of them, having been widely tipped as the successor to Jedinak who spearheaded the team at two World Cups before retiring from international duties this month.

Jedinak also led Australia to the Asian Cup title in 2015 and his absence means the Socceroos will be without him and veteran goalscorer Tim Cahill when they defend the trophy in the United Arab Emirates.

Cahill hung up his boots in July after a stellar career for his country that saw him go to four World Cups and score 50 international goals in 107 appearances.

Along with Sainsbury, Mark Milligan and Mat Ryan are seen as strong contenders to be skipper, while Robbie Kruse, Mat Leckie and Aaron Mooy are also among the senior playing group.

Sainsbury, who is married to Arnold’s daughter Elissa, is keen to get the job.

“I’d like to be captain, no way around that,” he told reporters. “Anyone who has the chance to captain their country, it’s a huge honour.

“But in this team we have so many players reaching the 25-30 cap mark and they’re all leaders in their own right. Whoever gets the job will have 23 other players behind them just as strong mentally.”

After Kuwait, Australia face South Korea and Lebanon at home before the Asian Cup kicks off on January 5.  

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