October 30, 2017 / 4:25 AM / 23 days ago

Soccer: Australia captain Jedinak returns for Villa

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia captain Mile Jedinak has raised hopes he might be fit to play in next month’s World Cup playoff against Honduras after making his long-awaited return for Aston Villa in the English Championship on Sunday.

Football Soccer - Australia v Saudi Arabia - World Cup 2018 Qualifiers - Adelaide Oval, Adelaide, Australia - 08/06/17 Australia's Mile Jedinak reacts after the match. REUTERS/David Gray/Files

The midfield stalwart has battled a groin injury for months and has been sidelined from Australia’s World Cup qualifying campaign since June.

Jedinak was came on for the last half-hour of Villa’s 0-0 draw in the derby against Birmingham City, his first appearance since Sept. 12, and impressed coach Steve Bruce.

“Once Jedinak came in, it stopped them and they weren’t as physical,” he told British media.

“I thought Jedinak coming on helped us enormously.”

Australia coach Ange Postecoglou would hope for a similar impact from Jedinak in the two-leg playoff against Honduras and the 71-cap midfielder was named in his preliminary 30-man squad for the ties.

The Central Americans host the first leg in San Pedro Sula on Nov. 10, with the second in Sydney on Nov. 15. The aggregate winners seal a place in the World Cup finals in Russia.

Postecoglou is expected to name his final 23-man squad this week.

Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Nick Mulvenney

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