Socceroos forward Mathew Leckie will be given every chance to prove his fitness ahead of Australia's vital World Cup qualifying clash with Japan on Thursday.

The 69-cap international hasn't played for Melbourne City for three weeks after suffering a groin injury in an A-League Men's game against Perth Glory.

The loss of Leckie would represent a significant blow for Thursday's must-win game at Sydney's Accor Stadium given Australia are already without Aaron Mooy, Tom Rogic, Jackson Irvine, Harry Souttar and Riley McGree and possibly head coach Graham Arnold.

Victory against the Japanese and a win away to group leaders Saudi Arabia next week will guarantee automatic qualification for Qatar.

Anything less and Japan sail through and the Socceroos head on a fraught qualification route where they would have to play the fifth-best team in South America to secure a spot at the World Cup.

Rene Muelensteen will take charge of the team - as he did in January against Vietnam in Melbourne - given Arnold is in isolation after contracting COVID-19 for the second time this year.

Arnold can return if he returns a negative result on Thursday after being whacked with a $25,000 fine from Football Australia for breaching isolation rules.

But the more pressing concern for a squad with 13 players that have fewer than 10 senior caps is if the experienced Leckie will be passed fit.

"He (Leckie) has been doing some really good rehab work with his club," said Muelensteen.

"We've been monitoring him very closely and then we will make a decision whether he can play a part, or some part of it.

"We're happy that we've got him in the squad and he's looking very good."

Even if Leckie is passed fit to play, Australia will have to dig deep against a Japanese side that boasts talent from across Europe's big leagues.

Meulensteen, at least, hopes to be able to fall back on some of the younger talent including Nick D'Agostino, Denis Genreau and Marco Tilio that was nurtured at last year's Tokyo Olympics.

"We felt we had to create more depth over the years to come and if you look at the games that we played in Japan, those players have come on leaps and bounds," he said.

"They are here to be selected on merit, and they will bring an abundance of energy and quality if they are called upon."


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