Coach Pim Verbeek has welcomed Mark Viduka’s return to the Socceroos’ inner sanctum, and the striker now looks certain to be a part of Australia’s 2010 World Cup finals campaign once he gets fit.
Viduka was a surprise visitor this week to the Socceroos’ camp ahead of Wednesday night’s World Cup qualifier in Brisbane, seeking medical help on how best to fix a troublesome Achilles.
The 33-year-old Newcastle striker has given mixed messages about whether he wants to play a major role in the World Cup campaign.
He hasn’t played for his country since last year’s Asian Cup debacle under Graham Arnold, and Verbeek had left him out of previous squads at the big striker’s behest as he attempted to bed down a spot at English club Newcastle.
But Viduka has not played a Premier League game this season because of his injury, and has turned to the Socceroos’ medical staff to help overcome the problem.
Verbeek is a Viduka fan, and has continually spoken throughout his reign about what a good addition to the campaign he would be.
While the Dutchman said he had not yet quizzed Viduka on his intentions, he gave a strong indication the former skipper’s return to the Socceroos line-up was not a case of “if”, but “when”.
“I haven’t spoken to him about coming back to the national team, yes or no,” Verbeek said.
“He promised me last year in April when I was in Newcastle he wanted to be in the World Cup 2010 and I think that is why he is here.
“For him to show interest in the Socceroos and to be back in Australia, it gives you an idea we welcome him to our training camp to get fit as soon as possible.”
Already another of Viduka’s contemporaries, Craig Moore, has reversed a decision to retire from international football.
The emergence of giant striker Josh Kennedy as a frontline weapon of note would also ease the pressure Viduka has so often been under at international level as Australia’s expected route to goal.