Goal Australia looks beyond the surface of Mile Jedinak's impressive numbers this season to question just how big a blow his loss would be to the Socceroos
Australian football is holding its collective breath at the news Mile Jedinak is in doubt for the World Cup due to a groin injury.
The Crystal Palace skipper will undergo scans to determine the extent of the problem, which he picked up on the final day of the Premier League season in a 2-2 draw away to relegated Fulham.
As the only Socceroo playing regularly in England's elite this season, Jedinak - if fit - is considered a certain starter in Brazil and expected to captain the team after being given the armband for the friendly loss to Ecuador in March.
An ever-present (until being forced off on Sunday) as promoted Palace secured top-flight survival with relative ease under Tony Pulis, much has been made in Australia and elsewhere about Jedinak's prodigious ability to spoil opposition attacks.
And some of the 29-year-old's statistics in that area this term are indeed impressive.
Going into the final round of the season, he had put in more tackles (131), made more interceptions (137) and played more minutes than any other player in the league.
There is also no denying the Socceroos are likely to find themselves under heavy pressure against Spain, the Netherlands and Chile next month.
However, pulling off tackles with varying degrees of desperation and repeatedly repelling wave after wave of attacks is merely treating the symptoms of a problem, namely a lack of possession. When a team spends as long without the ball as Palace did at times in 2013-14, they are bound to find themselves fighting off an onslaught.
The Socceroos may well come in for similar treatment in Brazil. And if Jedinak recovers to take his place in the starting XI against Chile on June 13, he will be one of the reasons for that.
That's because Australia will have in their engine room the least accurate passer of any defensive or deep-lying midfielder in the Premier League this season.
Using Opta, Goal Australia examined the key statistics of all 20 team's two most frequently used holding players. Of the 40, Jedinak was bottom in three important categories; general passing accuracy (71.84 percent), passing accuracy in his team's own half (82.43 percent) and passing accuracy in the opposition's half (63.76 percent).
That's compared to the average for the sample group of 84.99 percent, 91.81 percent and 79.73 percent respectively.
The A-League is some way below the demanding standards of the Premier League, but a glance at Jedinak's likely domestic-based partners/replacements serves to incriminate him further.
Melbourne Victory's Mark Milligan boasted a general passing accuracy of 80.1 percent this season, and 74.7 percent in the opposition third, while Brisbane Roar's Matt McKay tracked at 82.8 percent and 79.1 percent respectively.
McKay's team-mate, Luke Brattan, an outside chance to make this week's expanded 30-man World Cup squad, matched Mckay in general passing at 82.8 percent, and topped Milligan's return in the opposition half at 77.2 percent.
Other areas of concern include Jedinak's foul count. He committed 60 fouls in 2013-14, the third highest of the sample group and way above the average of 35.95. The Socceroos cannot afford to give away cheap free-kicks.
And his much-vaunted defensive statistics are perhaps not all they seem, with quantity perhaps swaying some opinions ahead of quality.
His tackle success rate was a respectable enough 76.69 percent, only 21st of the 40 players and just above the average of 74.98 percent. The likes of relegated trio Gary Medel (77.22 percent), Leroy Fer (77.92) and Scott Parker (77.65) all boasted better tackle success rates at Cardiff, Norwich and Fulham respectively.
Of some of the other midfielders sampled, Hull City's David Meyler (83.02), as well West Bromwich Albion pair Youssuf Mulumbu (83.72) and Claudio Yacob (82.35), were all substantially better despite playing in teams that finished below Palace on the table.
If Jedinak fails to recover, he will join other likely starters Robbie Kruse and Rhys Williams as evidence fate is conspiring against Ange Postecoglou and his players ahead of their mission impossible in Group B.
But with both Milligan and McKay more energetic and better going forward than Jedinak, and with promising ball-player Massimo Luongo and others waiting in the wings, losing the Palace man would be far from a disaster. In fact, having been written off by all and sundry, it might just be the quirk of fate the Socceroos need if they are to spring a surprise in South America.