Football: Australia name Captain Mile Jedinak in preliminary squad for key World Cup qualifiers

Sports Tuesday 15/August/2017 14:49 PM
By: Times News Service
Football: Australia name Captain Mile Jedinak in preliminary squad for key World Cup qualifiers

Melbourne: Australia captain Mile Jedinak has been named in a preliminary 30-man squad for the crunch World Cup qualifiers against Japan and Thailand as he battles to recover from a groin injury.
The defensive midfielder was forced to miss the Confederations Cup in Russia and is yet to resume club duties with Aston Villa in the English Championship.
Defender Brad Smith, who also missed the Confederations Cup, has been recalled in Ange Postecoglou's squad for the August 31 match away to Japan and the final clash at home to Thailand on September 5.
The squad will be trimmed to 23 players next week.
Australia are third in Group B of Asian qualifying, a point behind leaders Japan and level with second-placed Saudi Arabia with two rounds remaining.
The top two secure automatic berths to next year's finals in Russia, with the third-placed side needing to win two playoffs to advance.
Australia's hopes of a fourth successive World Cup appearance have been hampered by some poor displays but they should head to Saitama with confidence for their match against the Samurai Blue after an encouraging Confederations Cup.
The Asian Cup champions rebounded from a 2-0 loss against a second-string Germany to hold Cameroon and Chile to draws during the group phase of the tournament in Russia.
Tall South Korea-based defender Matthew Jurman has been called up in Postecoglou's squad for the first time and will bid for an international debut along with uncapped players James Jeggo, Awer Mabil, Riley McGree and Danny Vukovic.
"We haven't strayed too far from the players who went to the Confederations Cup and who we have had on the radar for a while, so not a great deal of change at this stage," Postecoglou said in a media release.
"There are a few new faces as well to have a look at, but overall pretty pleased with the shape we are in.
"It is going to be a great challenge playing away from home against one of the top nations but that's what we like to embrace as a team," Postecoglou added of the Japan clash.
"We are looking forward to going over there and hopefully getting three points which will put us in great shape for qualification."
The squad: Mustafa Amini, Aziz Behich, Tim Cahill, Milos Degenek, Adam Federici, Alex Gersbach, Ajdin Hrustic, Jackson Irvine, Mile Jedinak, James Jeggo, Tomi Juric, Matthew Jurman, Robbie Kruse, Mitchell Langerak, Mathew Leckie, Massimo Luongo, Awer Mabil, Jamie Maclaren, Ryan McGowan, Riley McGree, Mark Milligan, Aaron Mooy, Tom Rogic, Mathew Ryan, Trent Sainsbury, Brad Smith, Matthew Spiranovic, James Troisi, Daniel Vukovic, Bailey Wright.