Sydney (AFP) – Aaron Mooy was Thursday included in the Socceroos squad to defend their Asian Cup title, despite Huddersfield ruling him out of the tournament, but the experienced Tomi Juric was axed.
Midfielder Mooy has been in fine form in the English Premier League this season, but suffered a tear to the medial collateral ligament in his right knee earlier this month.
Huddersfield announced he would be sidelined until February, but Australian medical staff are en route to Britain to get a second opinion and Socceroos’ coach Graham Arnold said midfielder Mooy, a key cog in the team, was desperate to play.
“He wants to play the Asian Cup. He will be looked at tomorrow (Friday) and then we will make the next decision from there,” he said.
“He believes that he will be ready, and so do we, and there’s a process we have to go through and we’ll do that.”
Australia are already missing Celtic striker Daniel Arzani, who was ruled for the rest of the season last month after surgery on a knee injury.
Celtic midfielder Tom Rogic has also been under an injury could, but he has been declared fit and will be on the plane to the United Arab Emirates for the January-February tournament.
Australia are in Group B, along with Jordan, Syria and Palestine.
The main omission from the 23-man squad was forward Juric, who was part of Australia’s 2018 World Cup campaign but has struggled for form and fitness this season with his Swiss club Luzern.
Perth Glory winger Chris Ikonomidis, who has been scintillating form in the A-League, scoring five goals in his first eight games, replaces him.
“Our squad for the upcoming Asian Cup in the UAE blends youth with experience,” Arnold said.
“Individually and collectively the players are determined to excel at the tournament and following the three positive camps that we have had since September I know that Australia will enter the Asian Cup with the best camaraderie in the competition.”
Fifteen of the 23 players will be making their Asian Cup debuts.
Arnold said he was expecting great things from them, with the expectation that they will “win every match and ultimately lift the trophy”.
The team is due to assemble in the UAE from December 26.
Australia squad: Mustafa Amini (AGF Aarhus/DEN) Aziz Behich (PSV Eindhoven/NED), Martin Boyle (Hibernian/SCO), Milos Degenek (Red Star Belgrade/SER), Alex Gersbach (Rosenborg/NOR), Rhyan Grant (Sydney FC/AUS), Chris Ikonomidis (Perth Glory/AUS), Jackson Irvine (Hull/ENG), Matthew Jurman (Al-Ittihad/KSA), Robbie Kruse (Bochum/GER), Mitch Langerak (Nagoya Grampus/JPN), Mathew Leckie (Hertha Berlin/GER), Massimo Luongo (Queens Park Rangers/ENG), Awer Mabil (Midtjylland/DEN), Jamie Maclaren (Hibernian/SCO), Mark Milligan (Hibernian/SCO), Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield/ENG), Andrew Nabbout (Urawa Red Diamonds/JPN), Josh Risdon (Western Sydney Wanderers/AUS), Tom Rogic (Celtic/SCO), Mathew Ryan (Brighton/ENG), Trent Sainsbury (PSV Eindhoven/NED), Danny Vukovic (Genk/BEL)
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