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Aussies keen to rush fit-again Cahill back into team

SoccerNews in English Premier League, World Cup 19 Sep 2008

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National coach Pim Verbeek said Friday he will select fit-again midfielder Tim Cahill for Australia’s home World Cup qualifier against Qatar next month if the Everton star remains injury-free.

Cahill scored the match-winning goal for Everton in his first game back from a six-month lay-off with a broken foot in the English Premier League against Stoke City last weekend.

The Socceroos, who downed Uzbekistan 1-0 in their opening Asian group game in Tashkent on September 10, play Qatar in Brisbane on October 15 and Verbeek said he will pick the influential midfielder if he remains injury-free.

“I’m very pleased with Tim,” Verbeek told reporters here Friday.

“He played for 80 minutes last Saturday so let’s hope that he will stay fit in the coming weeks.

“After five months not playing and scoring such an important goal we know how important he can be for us, so hopefully he will remain fit.

“And if he’s fit, for sure I will select him for the Qatar game.”

Verbeek also expects Blackburn Rovers’ holding midfielder Vince Grella to recover from a calf injury to bolster his selection options.

The Dutchman said he also liked what he saw of Harry Kewell since his relocation to Turkish heavyweights Galatasaray from Liverpool.

“I was there a few weeks ago, spoke with him, saw him play, saw the environment that he is living in at the moment – he looks very happy,” he said.

But while Verbeek’s selection options appear to be expanding, 2006 World Cup skipper and striker Mark Viduka is struggling to recover from an Achilles tendon injury.

“It doesn’t look good at all,” Verbeek said. “But when I spoke to him last April he was very confident of being a member of the Socceroos.

“He said his contract will finish in 2010, and there’s nothing better than finishing at a World Cup.

“I am very pleased with my strikers, but we don’t have a player with the same special qualities like Viduka.”

Defender Craig Moore has also unexpectedly declared his willingness to end his eight-month international retirement and make himself available.

But Verbeek said he has offered no guarantees for the former Australian skipper.

“It’s great that he has found out that he is physically and mentally fit enough to join the group – now it is up to me to find out if I will select him, because I didn’t give him any guarantees,” he said.

Moore hasn’t played at the international level since Australia’s 3-0 win over Qatar in Melbourne last February and the 32-year-old former Glasgow Rangers defender wants to be part of the Socceroos’ bid to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

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