Viduka may need summer op

Viduka may need summer op

Newcastle striker Mark Viduka is set to miss out on Australia’s World Cup qualifiers over the summer because of an Achilles problem.

The 32-year-old, who has been a major part of the recovery inspired by new boss Kevin Keegan in recent weeks, has been playing with an injury which it is understood could require surgery at the end of the campaign.

He is expected to be available for the club’s final two Barclays Premier League fixtures, against Chelsea on Monday and Everton on the final day of the season.

However, Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek has resigned himself to being without Viduka for the qualifiers against Iraq twice, Qatar and China in June as they attempt to secure their place in the 2010 finals in South Africa.

That would come as a blow to Verbeek, who admits Viduka remains a key part of his plans.

He said: “Nobody can do the same as Mark Viduka. I have seen enough games in England and Europe – he is special.

“You don’t see players like him very often. He is so important for the team he is playing at.

“We don’t have players like that. With all respect for Scott (McDonald), Josh (Kennedy), Archie Thompson and John Aloisi, if we can use him, we will use him; if he is ready, he will come.

“We have some players who can do a great job also, but if we get a chance to use Mark, we will do it.”

Verbeek has travelled Europe to run the rule over his overseas-based players, and has received assurances from Viduka, whose international future has been a topic of debate for some time, that he fully intends to play on to the 2010 finals.

While that may concern the Magpies with the demands it will place on their player, it is good news for the Dutchman.

He said: “He has a contract (with Newcastle) until 2010 and he said he wants to finish with the World Cup, there’s no doubt about that.

“He was very positive about it and he said, ’I’m always available’.

“He said, ’Whenever you need me and I am fit, I will always come over’.”

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