MELBOURNE, Aug 23 (Reuters) - Australia captain Mile Jedinak will miss the last two World Cup qualifiers against Japan and Thailand in a blow for the Socceroos’ hopes of booking their tickets to the finals in Russia next year.
The Aston Villa midfielder has been battling a groin injury and was excluded from coach Ange Postecoglou’s 23-man squad named on Wednesday.
Postecoglou told reporters at a media conference in Melbourne that Jedinak had ruled himself out of the away match against Japan on Aug. 31 and the final home match against Thailand in Melbourne on Sept. 5.
“We wanted to give Mile every chance. He was very keen. But speaking to him, he’s not going to get in a game to see how he feels,” Postecoglou said.
The coach named a seasoned playing group with winger Awer Mabil and goalkeeper Danny Vukovic the only uncapped players.
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.
Goalkeepers: Mitchell Langerak, Mathew Ryan, Daniel Vukovic
Defenders: Milos Degenek, Alex Gersbach, Ryan McGowan, Trent Sainsbury, Brad Smith, Matthew Spiranovic, Bailey Wright.
Midfielders: Mustafa Amini, Jackson Irvine, Massimo Luongo, Mark Milligan, Aaron Mooy, Tom Rogic, James Troisi
Forwards: Tim Cahill, Tomi Juric, Robbie Kruse, Mathew Leckie, Awer Mabil, Jamie Maclaren
Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Rory Carroll