Socceroos sweat on Leckie fitness in Dubai

Socceroos sweat on Leckie fitness in Dubai

Injury has already robbed the Socceroos of star-studded strike power but Trent Sainsbury has tipped Martin Boyle and Andrew Nabbout to step up if scoring threat Mathew Leckie also goes down for their Asian Cup opener.

Socceroos coach Graham Arnold is already reeling from the loss of Aaron Mooy and Daniel Arzani for the team's Asian Cup defence, which begins on January 6 against Jordan in Al Ain.

The Socceroos are sweating on Mathew Leckie’s fitness.Credit:AAP

Leckie is on their injury list after limping off with a hamstring complaint during Hertha Berlin's Bundesliga clash against Bayer Leverkusen last weekend.

He is being assessed after only just joining the Socceroos' Dubai camp ahead of Sunday's final friendly against Pim Verbeek's Oman.

However, Sainsbury said they had the firepower up front to cover any injury, including the 59-cap attacker.

And he nominated Hibernian's Boyle and Japan-based Nabbout to fill the breach.

"Leckie only just arrived yesterday. If he's ready to go, that is fantastic – he has so many caps for Australia," Sainsbury said.

"He is vital but, at the same time, we have a lot of players who can fill his boots.

"We have a lot of speed up front with the likes of Nabbout, Boyle and those type of players who can be just as devastating so it's nice to know we will have back-up when we need it."

The Socceroos' squad are only just starting to gather for their United Arab Emirates camp ahead of their Group B opener against world No.109 Jordan at Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium.

Sainsbury said there might be plenty of fresh faces but was confident world No.41 Australia could still draw on their dramatic 2015 Asian Cup success.

"It was a long time ago but, at the same time, it gives us a mental edge to take into this tournament [as defending champions]," Sainsbury said.

"We have a lot of fresh faces in the squad now – I think it is 15 new boys.

"But we have those memories to take into the first game and roll on from there."

Sainsbury has been buoyed by consecutive starts with PSV Eindhoven – including a solid 90-minute display in their shock Champions League 1-1 draw with his former club Inter Milan.

Older and wiser since the 2015 success, Sainsbury hopes to help make a difference as Australia soldier on without retired greats Tim Cahill and Mile Jedinak.

"A lot has changed since then [2015] – players come and go," he said.

"It's always difficult when such players leave the squad but, four years ago, we had players in there who are now ready to step up – myself included."


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