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Jeggo in for Socceroos as injured skipper sent home

Soccer

The Socceroos will contest the Confederations Cup without their skipper after Mile Jedinak was sent home to properly recover from the groin injury that disrupted his English Championship season.

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Jedinak missed several games for Aston Villa this campaign thanks to the niggling issue, which returned after a full 90-minute shift in Australia’s 3-2 World Cup qualifying win over Saudi Arabia in Adelaide.

Coach Ange Postecoglou made the tough decision to withdraw the 32-year-old midfielder from both tonight’s friendly with Brazil at the MCG and the Confederations Cup, a busy schedule featuring four games in 13 days and a long-haul flight to Russia.

Replacing Jedinak in the side will be uncapped Austrian-based midfielder Jimmy Jeggo, a former Adelaide United regular who’s yet to make his international debut.

“Losing Mile is a blow as he’s not only an important member of the midfield, but a great leader amongst the group,” Postecoglou said.

Meanwhile, the coach doesn’t mind where the Socceroos’ pivotal final home World Cup qualifier is held, as long as the pitch gives his squad the best possible home advantage.

Australia’s last fixture against Thailand on September 5 could be the make or break on the road to Russia 2018.

The Victorian government has reportedly launched a bid to host the high-stakes clash at AAMI Park, which falls five days after the Socceroos’ away qualifier against Japan five days earlier.

As Football Federation Australia make moves to lock in a venue, Postecoglou was more focused on facilities.

“I think the most important thing for us is the surface,” Postecoglou said.

“It’s very important, we have seen that in recent times.

“Wherever we are most welcome you would like to think everyone would back us for that most crucial qualifier.

“We have travelled around the country a fair bit since I have been in charge.

“From that perspective the one thing we want to make sure is we get the right kind of conditions to play our football to give us any home advantage we need.”

Postecoglou has been critical of some of the pitches served up for Socceroos games around Australia.

He was particularly irate about the surface at ANZ Stadium for last year’s friendly with Greece, while there was a private belief Allianz Stadium fell short of international standard for March’s 2-0 qualifying win over the United Arab Emirates.

Third-placed Australia are locked in a battle with Saudi Arabia and Japan for two automatic World Cup spots.

To finish third would send them to playoffs against the third-placed side from Group A (currently Uzbekistan), with the winner of that two-legged series taking on the fourth-placed team from CONCACAF qualifying, a far-from-ideal scenario.

-AAP

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