Graham Arnold’s fraught preparations for this month’s vital World Cup qualifiers against Japan and Saudi Arabia have suffered a new setback, with key midfielder Aaron Mooy struck down by Covid.
Forty-nine cap Mooy’s know-how and experience were viewed as crucial in the heat of battle in Sydney on Thursday week and Riyadh five days later, as Australia hunt six points to seal automatic qualification to Qatar 2022.
MOOY BLOW ROCKS ARNOLD
- Australia star Aaron Mooy has been diagnosed with Covid-19 to all but rule him out of jetting to Australia's for this month's crucial World Cup qualifiers.
- The midfielder is currently in the UK, and his expected loss will be felt keenly against Japan and Saudi Arabia.
- Mooy is believed to be devastated at the prospect of missing out on what would have been his 50th cap against the Samurai Blue in Sydney.
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However, the 31-year-old Shanghai Port linchpin is now almost certain to miss out after testing positive in Scotland where he’s spending time with family during the Chinese Super League recess.
Mooy - who is double vaccinated - tested positive over the weekend and is believed to be crestfallen at the prospect of missing out.
It also looms as a bitter blow for Arnold, who is already juggling a striker crisis with Adam Taggart still recovering from knee surgery, Jamie Maclaren only available for the Japan game and obvious alternative Nikita Rukavytsya unavailable for both because he has not received a second COVID-19 vaccine.
Arnold is set to call up Melbourne Victory's ex-Olyroos striker Nick D'Agostino, and it's been confirmed that Perth Glory's Uruguay-born forward Bruno Fornaroli will be selected.
Mooy’s likely absence could pave the way for Sheffield Wednesday’s Massimo Luongo’s to return to the fold after over three-and-half years in the national team wilderness, especially with Middlesbrough's Riley McGre and Hearts Cameron Devlin injured.
Luongo, 29, has overcome a soul-crushing sequence of injuries and was one of the Owls’ main protagonists in the weekend’s 6-0 League One slaying of Cambridge United.
A possible starter in Mooy’s stead against the Samurai Blue is Eintracht Frankfurt’s Ajdin Hrustic, who was on the bench in last month’s disappointing 2-2 draw with Oman in Muscat before replacing Tom Rogic after an hour.
Hrustic came off the pine in the 87th minute in Eintracht’s 2-1 Bundesliga win over Bochum at the weekend.
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