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Socceroos injury concerns over captain and key players as World Cup qualifiers loom

Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou may look at more A-League players in his squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Iraq and the United Arab Emirates as he looks to cover for injuries to crucial players.

First-choice midfielder Tom Rogic will definitely be out after surgery on an ankle, while there are major doubts over captain Mile Jedinak, who has been battling a groin injury.

Postecoglou also has concerns over the fitness of striker Tom Juric, who has not seen much action since last November, and forward Apo Giannou.

“Rogic won’t be fit for March. You hope [he will be fit for the Confederations Cup in Russia in June] but that’s the nature of international football,” said the Socceroos boss.

Celtic star Rogic is the biggest worry. The midfielder has become a key player for Postecoglou in recent years and his creative spark and playmaking ability makes him an important part of the n set-up.

“It’ll depend. He’s already missed over a month of football. If you add another two months, that’s three months. It just depends how he comes back and how much game time he gets at Celtic in between,” Postecoglou said.

“At this stage we just hope his recovery goes well and he has no major setbacks. If that happens then he’s definitely a chance for June and Confederations Cup.”

The coach said he has had to consider other options as a result of doubts over Rogic’s fitness – and his ability to cope with the difficult conditions in the Middle East, where will play qualifiers in searing heat.

“That’s why we’ve been testing [players]. To be fair, Tommy found it really hard last year playing for us. In the games he played, he was working hard but it was difficult to play, especially in the away games, Saudi Arabia and UAE and Thailand.

“In those conditions Tommy found it really hard to play the game he wants to, but that was the reason we put him out there, to learn from that and grow as an international player because that’s what international football’s about.

“In terms of where he was at, we hope that experience this year would help him mature as a player. In terms of covering his absence, his performances last year were a bit of a grind for him, so it’s not like we were relying on him last year.”

Asked if Melbourne Victory’s in-form midfielder James Troisi could be a replacement, Postecoglou was circumspect.

“They’re different players, but it’s good to see Jimmy doing well and particularly in recent weeks he’s getting back to the levels we know he can,” he said. “He had a rough year last year in his club football so he didn’t play a lot for us.

“If he continues the form then he’ll definitely be in contention, if not for March, certainly moving forward.”

The coach is also keeping a watching brief on skipper Jedinak.

“Mile’s been struggling with a groin complaint for quite a while. The position Aston Villa were in they had to play him. When I went and watched him play around Christmas you could tell he wasn’t moving freely but Mile’s the type who’ll keep playing but now they realised, and he realised, he couldn’t go on like that.

“Again I think they’re doing the right thing, taking the conservative approach. He is touch and go for March to be fair, because he’s missed a lot of football so far and we’re two weeks away from selecting the squad.

“We’d need him to play at some point between now and selection to be a chance.”

It’s a similar tale for Swiss-based Juric and China-based striker Giannou.

“I think Juric still hasn’t played a full 90 minutes, so when you are looking at March you would like him to get some game time if possible to feel confident about how he would perform,” Postecoglou said.

“Giannou, they are in pre-season in Guangzhou. He wasn’t a regular for his team last year, so if he doesn’t play the first couple of rounds he will be touch and go.”

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