On the eve of what could be the defining World Cup qualifying game of Group 1, Australia face Uzbekistan with head coach Pim Verbeek citing some injury concerns to key players, though a fit Harry Kewell is ready to go.
Speaking at the pre-match press conference, the man trusted to take Australia to the 2010 World Cup talked about how training had been going and how the luxury of a full week’s preparation has affected the team.
“We have had a great camp so far,” Verbeek said. “The first days we spent trying to get used to the time difference, to give the injured players the time to get ready for the training, to allow the players to spend time with their friend and families as they have not been for a long time in Australia.
“We had some good training sessions last week in Parramatta; it was very good for us.
“We had every player on the field yesterday morning for the first time. I know what I am going to do tomorrow; it all depends on the physical fitness of some of the players who are not in training last week.
“So let’s wait for the afternoon training session and I will make up my mind.”
The Socceroos have had a week’s preparation for the potentially decisive clash and the Australian boss was happy to have that time with his players.
He continued, “That makes a big difference. I have time to find out if a player is really fit enough to play."
The players that are in question for tomorrow’s game are Everton midfielder Tim Cahill, Palermo midfielder Mark Bresciano, Aalborg defender Michael Beauchamp as well as Grosseto’s Carl Valeri.
Can Cahill Last 90?
“Tim Cahill is fit to play the match, the question is; is he is fit to play the 90 minutes?” Verbeek said.
With Tim Cahill a doubt, the former South Korean coach was confident the team could do without the goal-scoring midfielder
“There are 20 other players in the camp; I have enough players to win the game tomorrow.”
Bresciano Wait; Beauchamp/Valeri Doubts
The fitness of Serie A midfielder Marco Bresciano will be decided upon this afternoon by Verbeek, though the Palermo man has apparently trained successfully over the past few days.
“That is one of the players I have to think about after the training session [this afternoon],” Verbeek said.
“He trained on Saturday afternoon for half of the session and 100 per cent yesterday.
“From what I heard this morning, he had no complaints.”
On centre-back Michael Beauchamp, Verbeek was more circumspect as he has both Chris Coyne and Jade North to choose from, while he was still yet to make up his mind on Carl Valeri.
He added, “I will make that decision tonight, and worse case tomorrow morning if I have to wait for the one night rest to find out how the players come out of bed.
“Then I know exactly what we are going to do.”
Verbeek Hails Turkey Effect
On star-man Harry Kewell, the Australia boss seemed to indicate that he was ready to play, though he was not giving much away.
“He looks very fit, he is very eager to be part of the team so that’s good,” the Dutchman explained.
“It’s the best Harry Kewell I‘ve seen since I’ve been here.
“Physically and mentally I think Turkey is very good for him at the moment
“If he starts yes, I’m sure he can play 90mins - Harry is fitter than ever.”
Con Stamocostas, Goal.com