Australia coach Graham Arnold has included injured Huddersfield Town midfielder Aaron Mooy in his Asian Cup squad despite the playmaker already being ruled out of the tournament by the English Premier League club.
Huddersfield said Mooy would miss the Socceroos’ title defence in the United Arab Emirates next month having torn a ligament in his knee that would keep him out of action until February.
Arnold, however, said Mooy was desperate to play in the Jan. 5-Feb. 1 tournament and had requested a second opinion.
“They ruled him out initially before we could actually get to speak to him,” Arnold told reporters in Sydney on Thursday.
“He’s asked for the medical staff to go over and to have a look at him.
“We just want what’s best for the kid. The kid wants to go to the Asian Cup, the kid wants to play for Huddersfield.”
Arnold said Football Federation Australia physio Phil Coles was en route to England with other Socceroos’ medical staff to give the 28-year-old another assessment on Friday, and a final call on Mooy’s participation would be made over the weekend.
“(Mooy) believes that he’ll be ready and so do we,” added Arnold.
Arnold’s 23-man squad contains few surprises barring the selection of Perth Glory forward Chris Ikonomidis, who was included at the expense of Swiss-based regular Tomi Juric.
Ikonomidis was overlooked in Arnold’s first squads for friendlies against Kuwait, South Korea and Lebanon but had won his spot with strong form in the domestic A-League, Arnold said.
“He’s performed,” he added. “(Perth coach) Tony Popovic has done a fantastic job with Chris, brought him back. He’s got him extremely fit. He’s got him playing in a role that suits him and suits our style as well.”
Sydney FC right back Rhyan Grant has made the cut after making his debut in a 3-0 win over Lebanon a month ago.
Australia, under former coach Ange Postecoglou, won the 2015 Asian Cup on home soil.
Eight players who featured in that triumph will have a chance to defend the title, including captain Mark Milligan, centre back Trent Sainsbury and winger Robbie Kruse.
Striker Juric, who has scored eight goals in 41 appearances for the Socceroos, will not be among them, having struggled for game time with Swiss side FC Luzern.
Australia play their Asian Cup opener against Jordan in Abu Dhabi on Jan. 6.
Squad: Mustafa Amini, Aziz Behich, Martin Boyle, Milos Degenek, Alex Gersbach, Rhyan Grant, Chris Ikonomidis, Jackson Irvine, Matthew Jurman, Robbie Kruse, Mitch Langerak, Mathew Leckie, Massimo Luongo, Awer Mabil, Jamie Maclaren, Mark Milligan, Aaron Mooy, Andrew Nabbout, Josh Risdon, Tom Rogic, Mathew Ryan, Trent Sainsbury, Danny Vukovic