|Mark Viduka has helped Newcastle United out of
their relegation battle [GALLO/GETTY]
Australia striker Mark Viduka has been ruled of his country’s World Cup qualifiers in June with an Achille’s heel injury, coach Pim Verbeek has announced.
The 32-year-old Newcastle United striker committed last month to helping Australia qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, on the condition he was fit.
Verbeek, however, said Viduka would not be available for matches against Iraq in Brisbane and Dubai on June 1 and June 7 respectively, Qatar in Doha on June 14 and China in Sydney on June 22.
“He is struggling with an Achille’s problem,” Verbeek said from the Netherlands on a conference call.
“They are thinking of rehab, having injections and maybe a small operation at the end of the season so I don’t think he will be available.
“He was struggling and when we spoke he said he would see if he is (feeling) better and we would find out if he would be available (for June) but it is not going very well for him.
“It will be very difficult for him to be part of the group.”
Verbeek reiterated that Australia’s former captain was committed to ensuring his side qualified for South Africa.
“There is no doubt about it,” the coach added.
“He was very positive and said that if he was fit then he would be available.”
Liverpool forward Harry Kewell and Middlesbrough goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer had said they would also be available for the qualifiers, Verbeek said.
Kewell who missed the qualifier against China in March with a groin strain, was fit and training, though not playing, while Schwarzer had recovered from a shoulder injury, Verbeek said.
He expected Kewell, who has already committed to playing Australia’s friendly against Ghana in Sydney on May 23, to play all of the qualifiers.
Verbeek said that four players, Lucas Neill, Jacob Burns, Mile Sterjovksi and Josh Kennedy, were also expecting their partners to give birth to children in June and could also potentially miss matches.