After an 18-month injury nightmare, Massimo Luongo's return to form with English third-tier club Sheffield Wednesday hasn't gone unnoticed by Socceroos boss Graham Arnold.

Massimo Luongo comeback

  • The Socceroo has had an 18-month stretch mired by injury.
  • His recent form with Sheffield Wednesday has seen a resurgence of Luongo to his former form.
  • While this pleases Socceroos head coach Graham Arnold, he remains circumspect about a call-back.

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Luongo was named his club's player of the month for January after the midfielder appeared in victories over Plymouth Argyle and Ipswich Town and stood out in a defeat to Oxford following a lengthy layoff due to a hamstring injury.

The 29-year-old has continued that form into February in his most consistent stint since joining the Owls in 2019, Wednesday winning eight of the 12 league matches Luongo has appeared in this season as they surged into the League One play-off picture.

"It's great that Mass is back," Arnold told the Australian Associated Press.

"For me the most important thing for that kid now is that he's gone through a tough time with getting injuries, the most important thing is that kid's healthy again.

"He's fit again. He's happy again and he's back playing."

A member of Australia's 2014 and 2018 World Cup squads, Luongo hasn't featured for the national team since winning his 43rd cap in 2019 Asian Cup round-of-16 win over Uzbekistan with his last call-up coming later that year for the World Cup qualifier against Kuwait.

It's a long way from when Luongo was named on the shortlist for the Ballon d'Or in 2015 after his player-of-the-tournament efforts during Australia's Asian Cup triumph on home soil.

Luongo's experience and tough-tackling style could be just what Arnold needs ahead of March's crunch World Cup qualifiers against Japan and Saudi Arabia.

Arnold, however, wouldn't be drawn on whether Luongo's form had catapulted him back into his plans.

"Everyone talks about all these different players, I'm only allowed to pick 23," he said.

Australia are third in their qualifying group and need to win both matches to have any hope of automatically qualifying for this year's World Cup in Qatar and avoiding a treacherous play-off route to the finals.

The AFC has confirmed the playoff between the two third-placed finishers in Asian qualification will be played in Qatar on June 7.

The winners of that one-off match when then take on South America's fifth-placed nation -- currently Peru -- in the Middle East nation on June 13 or 14.


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