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Socceroos allay Sainsbury injury concerns


Socceroos midfielder James Jeggo is confident defender Trent Sainsbury will be fit to tackle China in Australia’s crunch World Cup qualifying clash in the UAE on Tuesday.

Sainsbury played the entire game of Thursday’s 0-0 draw against Group B leaders Saudi Arabia, and Jeggo allayed fears that the 29-year-old had pulled up with a sore hamstring after the match.

“Trent trained yesterday and he’ll be absolutely fine,” Jeggo said on Sunday.

“Coming off these games and coming off the travel, it always takes a little bit of a toll on people’s bodies.

“But we trained yesterday and everyone was good and in good spirits.”

The draw against Saudi Arabia and last month’s defeat to Japan in Saitama mean Australia face a nervy finish in the final group stage of qualifying.

The Socceroos sit second in Group B, just one point ahead of Japan, and three points ahead of fourth-placed Oman.

The top two in the group automatically qualify for the World Cup in Qatar, but the third-placed finisher will be thrust into a play-off.

Jeggo, who played a full game against Saudi Arabia to earn his 10th international cap, said the team wouldn’t let the tight nature of the group standings affect them.

“It is tight, but it’s the last phase of qualifying for a World Cup,” Jeggo said.

“There’s a lot of good teams, it’s very competitive. It’s always been like that in Asia.

“We know what’s at stake, we know what our aim is. But every time we come into camp the big focus is to not get too caught up in the big picture.”

China sit fifth in the group after posting just one win and a one draw from their first five games.

The Socceroos will be without central defender Harry Souttar (knee) and Andrew Nabbout (withdrawn), but defenders Ryan McGowan and Bailey Wright have been called into the squad to help fill the void.

With just one point to show from their past two games, the Socceroos have hit a rare wobble in their path to Qatar 2022.

Jeggo is confident the wins will start flowing again soon once some minor things are fixed.

“We more than held our own against (Japan and Saudi Arabia), and parts of our performances against them have been really dominant,” Jeggo said.

“It’s just at this level it’s often small details that make the difference, and small details that decide games. As a group, that’s where we are.

“What we’re doing and how we’re playing is on the right track. It’s just about those little details that decide these big games where there’s room for improvement.”



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