Socceroos captain Mile Jedinak will miss Australia's crucial World Cup Qualifers against Japan and Thailand as the midfielder battles fitness concerns.
Coach Ange Postecoglou cut his preliminary 30-man squad to 23 on Wednesday morning, with the Aston Villa midfielder's name the glaring omission, as he recovers from a groin injury that also kept him out of the Confederations Cup earlier this year.
“We wanted to give Mile every chance. He was very keen. But speaking to him last night, (he’s) not going to get in a game to see how he feels," Postecoglou explained.
“Being a long trip, and his long absence from game time, he felt he wasn’t right so he ruled himself out.
“I think it would’ve been great to have him there, he’s the captain and been a big part of what we’ve done over the last four years. He’s been struggling with this injury for quite a while but kept playing with us through that.
“From our perspective he wasn’t involved in the last camp and we’ve made sure we have a squad with players who can fill in when needed.
“We have enough depth in that area to cover his absence.”
Aziz Behich, Adam Federici, Ajdin Hrustic, James Jeggo, Riley McGree and Matthew Jurman were the other names from the 30-man squad to miss out.
Trent Sainsbury, who is under a fitness cloud, was included in the squad with Postecoglou saying he is training and remains a chance to play.
“He’s training fully now,” Postecoglou said.
“Post Confeds Cup he had some issues, now he’s back training now.
“Would’ve preferred he’d played but he’s been pretty resilient coming into camp when he hasn’t trained for us.”
The final round of qualifiers are proving to be the most exciting in some time, with Japan set to face Saudi Arabia and Australia (second and third in the group) in a top three playoff of sorts for automatic qualification.
Four points from the two games should be enough for the Socceroos to advance to Russia next year with Postecoglou saying these are two very important matches.
“Throughout this qualification campaign we have looked to evolve and improve from match to match,” said Postecoglou.
“Our focus is to get a positive result against Japan and then look to finish the group stage with a win on home soil in Melbourne against Thailand.”
NAME (CLUB/COUNTRY) CAPS (GOALS)
Mitchell Langerak (VfB Stuttgart, Germany) 8 (0)
Mathew Ryan (Brighton & Hove Albion, England) 35 (0)
Daniel Vukovic (KRC Genk, Belgium) —
Milos Degenek (Yokohama F. Marinos, Japan) 11 (0)
Alex Gersbach (Rosenborg BK, Norway) 3 (0)
Ryan McGowan (Guizhou Zhicheng, China) 20 (0)
Trent Sainsbury (Jiangsu Suning, China) 27 (3)
Brad Smith (Bournemouth, England) 15 (0)
Matthew Spiranovic (Hangzhou Greentown, China) 34 (0)
Bailey Wright (Bristol City, England) 18 (1)
Mark Milligan (Melbourne Victory, Australia) 59 (6)
Mustafa Amini (Aarhus Gymnastikforening, Denmark) 1 (0)
Jackson Irvine (Burton Albion, England) 13 (1)
Massimo Luongo (Queens Park Rangers, England) 29 (5)
Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield Town, England) 26 (5)
Tom Rogic (Celtic, Scotland) 27 (7)
James Troisi (Melbourne Victory, Australia) 32 (5)
Tim Cahill (Melbourne City, Australia) 100 (48)
Tomi Juric (FC Luzern, Switzerland) 26 (7)
Robbie Kruse (VfL Bochum, Germany) 55 (4)
Mathew Leckie (Hertha Berlin, Germany) 44 (5)
Awer Mabil (Paços de Ferreira, Portugal) —
Jamie Maclaren (SV Darmstadt 98, Germany) 4 (0)
GROUP B STANDINGS
1/ Japan – 17 points, +9 goal difference
2/ Saudi Arabia – 16pts, +7
3/ Australia – 16pts, +6
4/ UAE – 10pts, -3
5/ Iraq – 5pts, -3
6/ Thailand – 2pt, -16