AUGUST 20 2017 – 5:10PM
Socceroos skipper Mile Jedinak will be available for the World Cup qualifiers against Japan and Thailand if he gets through club duty this week unscathed.
Coach Ange Postecoglou told ABC’s Offsiders he had been in regular contact with Jedinak, who was selected in his preliminary 30-man squad despite struggling with the groin injury that kept him out of the Confederations Cup.
But he expects Jedinak should be right, provided he plays and recovers well from at least one of Aston Villa’s two matches this week.
“He’s an important part of what we’ve been building and what people don’t know is he’s been playing hurt for probably the last 12 to 18 months for us,” Postecoglou said.
“(He) always puts his hand up. If he gets through 90 minutes, he’ll be there for sure.”
Postecoglou is due to trim his squad by seven players this week.
Several of his European-based players are in tip-top form, with Tom Rogic dominant as usual for Celtic and Aaron Mooy enjoying a terrific start to life in the Premier League with Huddersfield Town.
Winger Mathew Leckie also made a stunning debut for Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin overnight, scoring twice in a 2-0 win to celebrate the birth of his daughter last week.
The Socceroos forward, who joined from Ingolstadt in the off-season, eluded a defender with a clever flick and finished in style just after the restart, and then blasted home after Stuttgart failed to clear a corner.
Leckie had failed to score in his last 30 matches, his most recent goal coming in May last year against Bayer Leverkusen.
He has now scored three goals against Stuttgart, his best return against any Bundesliga outfit. His Socceroos teammate Mitch Langerak was left on the bench on Saturday as Stuttgart’s back-up goalkeeper.
Australia need at least four points from the two games – against Japan in Saitama on August 31, then against Thailand in Melbourne on September 5 – to qualify directly for the 2018 World Cup in Russia without relying on other results.
“Getting a draw and then trying to win at home, which we’ve done fairly consistently, is one method but I’d rather go over there and try and win that (Japan) game,” Postecoglou said.
“That’s what I want to test. We’ve worked with this team for the last four years to play well in big occasions when the pressure’s the most, and this is it.”
If the Socceroos finish third in Group B, they can still qualify if they win two dual-legged play-offs – first against the other third-placed Asian side in Group A, then the fourth-placed qualifier from North and Central America.