Mark Viduka’s playing future has been thrown into doubt following comments by Australia manager Pim Verbeek, who says the striker might not want to play any more if he doesn’t sign a new contract with Newcastle United.
Viduka, whose current contract with the English Premier League club runs out at the end of the season, turns 34 in October and has seen his two-year stint at St James’ Park ravaged by injury.
His international career has consequently suffered, with his last meaningful contribution in an Australia jersey having come at the 2007 Asian Cup – immediately before his Newcastle move.
“If he decides not to sign a new contract then there will probably be a big chance that he doesn’t want to play any more,” Verbeek said. “...he has a history with injuries.”
“Their league finishes on the 24th [of May] and it’s up to him if he still wants to play next season.”
Speaking at a teleconference, the Dutch manager left the door open however for Viduka to the Socceroos set-up.
Australia’s last three World Cup Qualifiers will be played over an eleven-day period in June; they need only a point from those matches to secure their place in South Africa next year.
Those matches away to Qatar and then at home to Bahrain and Japan might represent the last chance Viduka has to stake his claim for a place in Pim Verbeek’s squad for the 2010 World Cup.
However, the former South Korea boss says Viduka might not even make the June qualifiers as he focuses instead on his club’s relegation battle.
He continued, “If he doesn’t want to play next season then it’s useless to take him for the June games.
“So let’s wait for his decision and let’s wait to see what’s going to happen with Newcastle.
“He doesn’t want to think about anything else at the moment other than keeping them in the Premiership and I think that’s a very professional attitude.”
Following his match-winning performance against Middlesbrough earlier in the week, Viduka has drawn praise from Verbeek, who will make a late decision on the Premier League star’s Australia future.
“We always said that the moment he gets fit and starts playing games, he is always an interesting player, especially the way he’s playing now,” Verbeek said. “He’s very pleased with Alan Shearer as the manager and he’s doing well.
“I think we will find out if he is fit and ready to play for us in June.
“That’s one of the latest decisions we are going to make.”
Chris Paraskevas, Goal.com