Mile still in 'Roos plans
Perth Glory marquee man Mile Sterjovski has revealed he almost earned a surprise call-up to the Qantas Socceroos' squad for the Asian Cup qualifier against Oman a fortnight ago, but was forced out due to an ankle injury.
Perth Glory marquee man Mile Sterjovski has revealed he almost earned a surprise call-up to the Socceroos' squad for the Asian Cup qualifier against Oman a fortnight ago, but was forced out due to an ankle injury.
Sterjovski was left out of the initial squad for the friendly clash with The Netherlands and the game against Oman in Melbourne, leading many to fear his chances of figuring in Pim Verbeek's World Cup plans were slim.
This was because the only two A-League-based players consistently playing for Australia since the completion of World Cup qualification last July have been Gold Coast United's Jason Culina and Brisbane's Craig Moore.
Sterjovski and his Glory team-mates Jacob Burns and Chris Coyne were all part of that successful World Cup campaign, but many argued the trio's move to Perth from Europe has hampered their national eligibility.
But Sterjovski poured cold water on this theory, saying he felt he remained in contention and could prove it.
"I was disappointed not to be called up (initially)," Sterjovski said on Wednesday.
"But I actually was meant to go into camp in Melbourne after the Adelaide game (in Round 10) but I got injured."
"That was the most disappointing thing for me, 'cause they might have given me a chance to play there."
"But the World Cup's still a long time away. We've got plenty of time to make it into the squad and the same kind of thing happened to me last time around and I ended up making the team."
"So I'm not too worried at the moment, the most important thing is to keep playing regularly and to play well and to win games."
Sterjovski actually scored in Australia's second-last World Cup qualifying match against Bahrain in Sydney and came close to adding to his national tally against Japan at the MCG.
Coyne was rested for that match after a solid defensive performance against Bahrain while Burns won praise for steeping into Culina's shoes last September as he played in a re-jigged midfield that saw off Uzbekistan 1-0 in Tashkent.
Sterjovski, though, was more concerned with the mysterious ankle injury that's kept him out for the Glory's last two matches, consecutive 2-1 losses to Gold Coast and North Queensland respectively.
The 30-year-old said he was almost certain of playing against Melbourne on Sunday but was prepared to sit it out if there was a chance of further injury, particularly with another Asian Cup qualifier against Oman coming up on November 14 in Muscat.
"I've been having problems since the Adelaide game," he said ahead of testing the ankle out at training.
"It swelled up after that game and I was having trouble walking (but) I don't know exactly what it was, it's pretty bizarre."
Sterjovski said scans didn't reveal the nature of the injury although he'd been assured there was no structural damage.
"The way I'm feeling, I'd say I'm like a 90 per cent (chance of playing against Melbourne)."
"Against North Queensland, I probably could have played but I didn't know how it would react and we didn't want to risk maybe being out for another three or four weeks."
If Sterjovski plays, he'll be a readymade replacement for Victor Sikora after the Dutch left-sided midfielder/striker injured his hamstring against North Queensland, forcing him to miss the next two matches.