Australia have been dealt a huge blow ahead of their crucial World Cup qualifier against United Arab Emirates, with key midfielder Tom Rogic withdrawing from Graham Arnold’s squad.
With just over a week to go before the Socceroos’ Asian playoff in Doha, Rogic notified Socceroos staff of his decision to pull out, citing personal reasons.
Without one of his most creative attacking players, Arnold is left with a selection headache, but Football Australia on Tuesday said the Socceroos would not be calling up a replacement.
“My focus must now be on the players we have here in Qatar,” Arnold said. “We have selected an extended squad of quality players and I believe that we will achieve something special for Australia over the next two weeks.”
Australia need to win next Wednesday’s one-off game to keep alive their hopes of reaching a fifth straight World Cup at the end of the year. A final playoff of a long-winded qualification campaign against Peru awaits the winner the following week.
Rogic is without a club after announcing he will end his nine-year association with Celtic following the club’s Scottish Premiership title win under the guidance of Ange Postecoglou.
Boosting Arnold’s midfield options is the return to the squad of Aaron Mooy, who has not played a competitive game of football this year but has a chance to prove his fitness in a friendly against Jordan on Wednesday (Thursday morning AEST).
Mooy has been one of several big names missing for the Socceroos as their qualification campaign derailed in recent international windows, when back-to-back defeats to Japan and Saudi Arabia dashed their hopes of automatic qualification for the tournament in Qatar.