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No captain Jedinak for Socceroos' World Cup qualifiers

Soccer

Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou will be without Mile Jedinak for Australia’s crunch World Cup qualifiers after the skipper accepted his injury fate.

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Postecoglou excluded his midfield warrior and Asian Cup-winning captain from his 23-man squad for Australia’s final games of their qualifying group, against Japan (August 31) and Thailand (September 5).

Jedinak has been nursing a groin complaint for months, and has just one match under his belt in the last five months – Australia’s 3-2 win over Saudi Arabia in June.

Postecoglou said the Aston Villa midfielder made the call on his fitness in a phone call last night.

“We wanted to give him every chance. He was very keen to be a part of it,” Postecoglou said.

“With it being a fairly long trip and his absence from game time, he felt he wasn’t right and from that perspective ruled himself out.”

Postecoglou has selected defenders Trent Sainsbury and Brad Smith in his squad despite an absence of club football this season.

Sainsbury has made one appearance at club level in 2017, while Smith made a first start of the season this morning for Bournemouth.

Postecoglou said a favourable medical report got Sainsbury, Australia’s best performer at the Confederations Cup, over the line.

“He’s been pretty good and pretty resilient when he’s come into camp even when he hasn’t played (leading in),” he said.

Postecoglou today trimmed his extended squad of 30 to 23.

There are four changes from the Confederations Cup squad, with Matthew Spiranovic, Mustafa Amini, Awer Mabil and Smith coming in – and Aziz Behich, Ajdin Hrustic, Jimmy Jeggo and Dylan McGowan going out.

Gloveman Danny Vukovic and Mabil are the only uncapped players in the squad.

Australia require four points from the two matches – in Saitama and Melbourne – to guarantee attendance at next year’s World Cup.

With a host of in-form players at club level, led by Aaron Mooy, Tom Rogic, Tomi Juric and Mat Leckie, Postecoglou is confident of a strong showing.

“Most of them are getting regular game time and not just playing but playing well,” he said.

“I’m sure they’ll come into camp confident but no different to any other time. We’ve always had a great amount of belief.”

Anything less than four points and the Socceroos are likely to finish third in the group and must confront a pair of two-legged matches – against an Asian team before a North/Central American team – to return to Russia.

Meanwhile, Postecoglou doesn’t want any part of the governance dispute that threatens the code’s future in Australia.

But he’s confident – one way or another – soccer will thrive in the country.

FFA powerbrokers have failed to reach agreement with A-League clubs and players in recent months on a power and revenue sharing model to drive growth in the game.

World governing body FIFA, and the Asian confederation, has watched on with displeasure and could even dissolve FFA’s board if a deal isn’t struck in coming weeks.

The national team mentor has been conspicuous in his absence from the debate, which could have huge ramifications for Australian soccer.

Postecoglou said he didn’t see a role for himself as a peacemaker, a provocateur or otherwise.

“I’ve stayed out of it,” he said.

“I think my role is to make sure we do well over the next couple of games and see this team and our nation play at the next World Cup. That’s where I fit into the puzzle.”

Postecoglou said the dispute wasn’t affecting the national side, adding “not at this point anyway”.

His pedigree in Australian soccer – as national team coach, a two-time National Soccer League winner as a player and coach and the only man to coach an A-League club to back-to-back championships – is unrivalled.

His decades of experience leads him to believe Australian soccer will sail through its troubled waters.

“I’m not fearful of the health of the sport,” he said.

“The sport has had far greater issues than it’s had at the moment.

“I’ve never feared for the health of the sport. It’s overcome too many challenges in the past and it always finds a way to move forward. It will continue to do so.”

SOCCEROOS SQUAD

Goalkeepers: Mitchell Langerak (Stuttgart, Germany), Mathew Ryan (Brighton, England), Daniel Vukovic (Genk, Belgium).

Defence: Milos Degenek (Yokohama Marinos, Japan), Alex Gersbach (Rosenborg, Norway), Ryan McGowan (Al Sharjah, UAE), Trent Sainsbury (Jiangsu Suning, China), Brad Smith (Bournemouth, England), Matthew Spiranovic (Hangzhou, China), Bailey Wright (Bristol City, England).

Midfield: Mustafa Amini (AGF, Denmark), Jackson Irvine (Burton Albion, England), Massimo Luongo (QPR, England), Mark Milligan (Melbourne Victory), Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield Town, England), Tom Rogic (Celtic, Scotland), James Troisi (Melbourne Victory).

Forwards: Tim Cahill (Melbourne City), Tomi Juric (Luzern, Switzerland), Robbie Kruse (Bochum, Germany), Mathew Leckie (Hertha, Germany), Awer Mabil (Pacos de Ferreira, Portugal), Jamie Maclaren (Darmstadt, Germany).

SOCCEROOS MATCHES

August 31 – 8:05pm (ACST) – Japan v Australia – Saitama Stadium, Saitama.

September 5 – 7:30pm (ACST) – Australia v Thailand – AAMI Park, Melbourne.

-AAP

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