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Ante Milicic, Josep Gombau in line for Western Sydney Wanderers' job

Jason Dasey and Nick Ward give their early thoughts and predictions ahead of the 2017/18 A-League.
Tomi Juric was on the scoresheet as Australia now are made to wait over their 2018 World Cup hopes.
Australia's Tomi Juric feels his side could have easily won by five goals and now anxiously await Japan's result.
Mile Jedinak returns to Australia's squad set to face Syria, while Nikita Ruka Rukavytsya rejoins after a 3-year absence.

Speculation has intensified that Ante Milicic could be in line for a Western Sydney homecoming, while fellow Socceroos' assistant Josep Gombau also remains in the frame to replace Tony Popovic.

Milicic, the Wanderers' first assistant to Popovic, is reportedly open to returning to Blacktown in what would be his first head coaching job.

The 43-year-old was touted as a leading contender after Popovic's shock departure on Sunday, but was thought an unlikely prospect, given he has just moved his family to Europe.

Should Wanderers chairman Paul Lederer and chief executive John Tsatsimas go down that route, Milicic's experience with the club's culture and furniture would be a stabilising force during its most tumultuous period.

Olyroos' coach and former Adelaide United mentor Gombau is also a strong candidate, given Popovic's Spanish-inspired recruitment drive, while Mark Rudan in also believed to be in contention.

Australia coach Ange Postecoglou
Socceroos' assistant Ante Milicic, second left, is in line to take the vacant Western Sydney coaching job.

Both Milicic and Gombau, who FFA said were unable to comment, oversaw Socceroos training on Monday afternoon in Malacca, where Australia are preparing to play Syria on Thursday night.

Given the time-sensitive nature of the Wanderers' predicament -- their opening A-League match is in five days -- it is likely Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou would have to give his blessing for either to leave the national team set-up in the midst of crunch World Cup qualifying playoffs.

The Wanderers, meanwhile, have been silent since Sunday's news Popovic had accepted an offer to coach Turkish top-flight club Karabukspor.

There were no public announcements about their coaching structure on Monday, amid widespread conjecture goalkeeping coach Zeljko Kalac and assistant Andres Carrasco are set to follow Popovic out the door.

The Wanderers are expected to name their academy technical director Ian Crook as interim head coach on Tuesday.

Englishman Crook was an assistant coach of the senior team in their AFC Champions League-winning season and had a six-game stint as head coach of Sydney FC in 2012.

Despite the turbulence of recent days, three-time grand finalists Western Sydney are still considered a major threat to Sydney FC's title defence.

The club's active supporter group, the Red and Black Bloc, clearly had mixed feelings about the departure of the only head coach in the club's five-year existence.

"This is not the ideal goodbye and the timing leaves a sour taste," the Bloc said on their Twitter account.

"But above all, now and forever... THANK YOU POPOVIC."

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