Socceroo’s Mathew Leckie (front) and Josh Risdon after Peru score the opening goal in the Socceroos v Peru match at Fisht Stadium in Sochi during the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Picture: Toby Zerna
Socceroo’s Mathew Leckie (front) and Josh Risdon after Peru score the opening goal in the Socceroos v Peru match at Fisht Stadium in Sochi during the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Picture: Toby Zerna

Asian Cup nightmare for Socceroos

Attacker Mathew Leckie has been injured just a fortnight before the Socceroos' opening match at the Asian Cup.

Leckie was replaced with what appeared to be a hamstring problem early in the second half of Hertha's 3-1 loss at Bayer Leverkusen.

The 27-year-old's German Bundesliga club have yet to release any details about the injury.

Australia national team coach Graham Arnold will be hoping for a positive prognosis with the Socceroos' defence of their Asian Cup title kicking off against Jordan on January 6.

Leckie has scored twice in his past six league outings, his latest was midweek with a low crisp finish in a 2-2 draw with Augsburg.

He has 59 caps to his credit and although his nine goals do not make him a prolific scorer in international football he is one of the first names on the Socceroos' team sheet.

With the Socceroos due head into camp in Dubai later this month before a final hitout against Oman, Leckie's injury is the latest setback for Arnold who was unable to select the injured Daniel Arzani in his 23-man squad.

 

The availability of key midfielder Aaron Mooy, who was named by Arnold despite a knee injury which his English Premier League Huddersfield Town believe requires a recovery period of "six to eight weeks", is expected to be confirmed within the next 24 hours.

Tom Rogic appears to have overcome a knee problem with his Scottish Premier League Celtic even appealing to FFA to allow him to play in the Old Firm derby next weekend before he links up with the Socceroos, a request unlikely to be granted.

GRAHAM ARNOLD WORKING ON PLAN B FOR MOOY

Socceroos coach Graham Arnold says he has a Plan A and a Plan B for how to replace Aaron Mooy should the midfielder's injury rule him out of the Asian Cup. Mooy has undergone three medical assessments on his knee since suffering the injury on duty for Huddersfield Town a fortnight ago.

First came the initial diagnosis from his club of a two-month layoff, leading to the English Premier League club ruling out Mooy from the tournament. In the past two days, Mooy and the Socceroos have asked for further assessments from national team physio Phil Coles and an independent third party. Huddersfield and the Socceroos will compare notes on Sunday (UK time) and come to an agreement on the 28-year-old's availability.

Socceroos Head Coach Graham Arnold. Picture: AAP Image
Socceroos Head Coach Graham Arnold. Picture: AAP Image

Nobody believes Mooy will be fit for Australia's group stage opener with Jordan on January 6 but the discussion will be whether Mooy can recover for the later stages of the tournament.

Arnold's first choice is to select Mooy if he can play a role in the knockout phase, which begin on January 20.

But the wily coach has back-up options.

"I have two plans in my head," he told AAP.

"One plan is to go with another attacker, because Mark Milligan can push into midfield and so can Rhyan Grant.

"Or I go for another six (holding midfielder) because the way I expect us to play is high-intensity running.

"Having so many games in a short amount of time, we have to make sure we have a lot of personnel." Australia's final squad lodgement date is just hours before the Jordan match but Arnold is keen to finalise his 23-man squad before Christmas. Given many players will be in action before linking up in the UAE on December 27, Arnold has a 10-man stand-by list should an injury present itself. Arnold confirmed to AAP that Ajdin Hrustic was on the list but didn't divulge further names after seeing the heartbreak for players like Josh Brillante and James Troisi, who were cut from the World Cup squad on the eve of Russia. "I felt really sorry for those boys that missed out at the World Cup. They then become the headline," he said.

"I don't want that. I want these 23 boys to get the headlines. "If we do need a change to pull someone in they become a good headline not a bad headline."

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