SYDNEY (Reuters) - Asian champions Australia will be without captain Mile Jedinak for the Confederations Cup in Russia later this month after he aggravated a groin injury in a World Cup qualifier last week.
The 32-year-old Aston Villa defensive midfielder pulled up sore after the 3-2 win over Saudi Arabia in Adelaide last Thursday and will also miss Tuesday’s friendly against Brazil at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
“I‘m disappointed to miss the Confederations Cup as it is something we have been looking forward to and working towards since we won the Asian Cup,” Jedinak said in a news release.
“But we have some crucial games coming up over the next 12 months leading into the World Cup, which I need to be fit and firing for.”
Jedinak, who has scored 15 goals, mostly from the penalty spot, for Australia, will be replaced in Ange Postecoglou’s squad by uncapped Sturm Graz midfielder James Jeggo.
The Socceroos earned their place at the June 17-July 2 Confederations Cup by winning the Asian Cup in 2015 and will take on Germany, Cameroon and Chile in the group stage in Russia.
“Losing Mile is a blow as he is not only an important member of the midfield but a great leader amongst the group,” coach Postecoglou said.
”He has had a tough period since Christmas with his groin and we all agree it is in the best long term interest of Mile and the Socceroos that he has a break.
“He will take a break to ensure he is ready for the season ahead with his club and what is also an important 12 months for the national team, beginning with the (World Cup) qualifiers in August/September.”
Australia’s win last week put them level on points with the Saudis and Japan in Asia’s World Cup qualifying Group B with two games remaining. Japan play their game in hand against Iraq on Tuesday.
The top two teams qualify automatically for next year’s World Cup in Russia, with the third-placed side going into a playoff.
Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by Peter Rutherford