Rogic set for knee operation

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers has confirmed that Australia international Tom Rogic needs knee surgery and will be sidelined until mid-March.

The 26-year-old former Central Coast Mariners midfielder will be out of action for up to six weeks.

Rogic has been representing the Socceroos at the Asian Cup, which was surprisingly won by Qatar, with Graham Arnold's side being knocked out in the quarter-finals by United Arab Emirates.

"Tom is actually going to be out for six weeks which is a real blow for us," Rodgers said ahead of Sunday's trip to St Johnstone.

"He came back from the Asian Cup and had an issue with his hand out there and injured his knee when he landed awkwardly.

"He went down to London with a member of our medical team to check that his hand didn't need an operation and, while he was there, we thought we would have his knee looked at and it showed up a lateral meniscus problem, which is going to put him out for up to six weeks.

"It is not what we expected but that's the way football works. It is unfortunate. He won't need the operation on his hand but needs it on his knee."

Celtic are 1/8 to win the Scottish Premiership again this season and 3/10 to beat St Johnstone in Perth on Sunday.

Rogic rocket earns win

A quality stoppage-time strike by Tom Rogic took Australia through to the knockout stages of the Asian Cup as they beat Syria 3-2.

The Socceroos were twice pegged back in Al Ain after Awer Mabil and Chris Ikonomidis scored.

A draw would have been enough to see Graham Arnold's side through but they secured their second straight victory when Rogic fired in from outside the area in the 93rd minute.

The holders will now face Uzbekistan or Japan in the round of 16 on Monday.

Australia, who had needed extra time to see off Syria in their two-legged clash in qualification for World Cup 2018, were given an early scare when Omar Khrbin dragged a low effort past the far post in the 13th minute.

Jamie Maclaren headed wide for Australia from Rhyan Grant's cross and was denied by keeper Ibrahim Alma's double save before the Socceroos went ahead on 41 minutes. Mabil struck a powerful curling effort with his left foot that gave Alma no chance, notching his fourth international goal.

The lead only lasted two minutes though with Khrbin poking home at the second attempt after Mat Ryan had parried his initial close-range header.

Ikonomidis squeezed the ball over the line nine minutes into the second half to convert Rogic's pass and make it 2-1.

Arnold's side were denied a two-goal cushion when Apostolos Giannou, having replaced Maclaren, took Mabil's pass and fired a fine low shot into the base of the post.

And 10 minutes from time Syria were level when they were awarded a penalty which Omar Al Soma converted.

Rogic's tremendous strike earned the three points for the Socceroos, taking them through in second spot.

Australia are 9/1 to win the Asian Cup. Meanwhile, Japan are 8/13 to win Group F and Uzbekistan 13/10.

Socceroos back on track in Asian Cup

Two early goals powered Australia to a first win at the Asian Cup, as they beat Palestine 3-0 in Dubai.

Shocked in their opening Group B match by Jordan, the Socceroos rebounded strongly with Jamie Maclaren and Awer Mabil netting inside the first 20 minutes.

A header from substitute Apostolos Giannou a minute from time rounded off the comfortable win at Rashid Stadium.

With Jordan winning their second match, 2-0 against Syria, it means Australia can't now catch them for top spot in the group but are well placed to go through as the second automatic qualifiers.

They have two more points than Palestine or Syria, and only need a draw against Syria in their final match to progress.

Maclaren headed home an 18th minute cross from Tom Rogic, who was able to play despite having broken a bone in his hand against Jordan.

It was Hibernian striker Maclaren's first goal for the Socceroos, his glancing header nestling in the far corner beyond keeper Rami Hamada.

Within two minutes Mabil ghosted in to latch on to an angled ball from Chris Ikonomidis. Giannou's goal also came from an Ikonomidis cross.

The Socceroos could have gone 3-0 up before the break, but Mabil blazed over from close range.

Graham Arnold's side almost scored again when Rhyan Grant's low cross deflected off Abdallah Jaber and struck the bar.

Palestine did not muster a single effort on target and have failed to score in their two games so far.

But they can still go through if they beat Jordan, who have already secured qualification.

The Socceroos are 1/2 to win their next game against Syria, who are 13/2 with the draw 14/5.

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Injuries mount for Socceroos

Australia have injury worries over three players ahead of Friday's vital Asian Cup clash with Palestine.

Coach Graham Arnold may have as few as 16 outfield players to choose from in the team's second match at the tournament.

Josh Risdon and Andrew Nabbout are both concerns due to groin issues, while Tom Rogic is nursing a broken hand.

Nabbout and Risdon are unlikely to feature against Palestine, while Rogic, who was injured when he took a tumble in the opening game against Jordan, has yet to be cleared.

The Celtic player ran a few laps at training on Tuesday in Dubai, and is reported to be carrying a knee problem.

Risdon watched the training session, while Nabbout and Mathew Leckie warmed up with the main group, but did not stay with them for long before coming away to do their own lighter work.

Leckie (hamstring) is in the 23-man squad for the Asian Cup but is not expected to be fit until the knockout stage.

Nabbout was forced to pull out at the last minute before the Jordan game, having injured his groin in the last five minutes of their final training session before the match.

Risdon was taken off at half-time with a groin issue of his own. Assistant coach Rene Meulensteen said he had been "over-stretching" himself in his abdominal area when he was hurt.

"(Nabbout) wouldn't be surprised if he wasn't fit for that game. Risdon again, I don't think he'll be fit," added Meulensteen.

"We've had a few of those knockbacks in that respect, because you want your best players on the pitch, we all know that, but we don't spend any energy thinking about that."

If Risdon is unavailable it will mean a start at right-back for Rhyan Grant, who did well off the bench against Jordan, while Rogic is awaiting word from a specialist in Dubai who he saw on Monday.

Australia are 12/1 to win the Asian Cup, while the Socceroos are 5/2 to reach the final of the tournament.

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Rogic broke hand in defeat

Australia hope midfielder Tom Rogic will be available against Palestine, despite breaking a bone in his hand.

The Celtic star hurt his hand in the first half of their opening game of the Asian Cup when he tumbled to the deck after chasing a Jordan player. He managed to play the full 90 minutes in Al Ain, though he missed a couple of decent opportunities in the second half.

The 26-year-old sought medical attention from the bench a short time after injuring his hand and had it strapped before completing the match.

After he saw a specialist on Monday in Dubai, Australia believe he will be fine to take on Palestine on Friday, but they are still awaiting a full report.

Assistant coach Rene Meulensteen said: "I think there is a few scenarios they're looking at at the moment, so we'll have to get the full scale of what we've got to do with that one as soon as we know – whether he can keep playing or not."

Jackson Irvine came to the defence of Rogic, who is already carrying a knee injury, after he was criticised in the wake of the Jordan loss.

"He's a very talented player and he's technically one of our most gifted footballers," said Irvine. "But this is a 23-man squad and there's 14 who are involved on the day and everyone needs to improve and look at their own individual performances, as I'm sure he will.

"We all need to contribute more in certain areas of the pitch, that's for sure. You start with yourself, look in the mirror and see if you've done enough and where you can help out more."

The Socceroos are 2/7 to win their next game against Palestine, who are 10/1, with the draw 4/1.

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Rogic left out after Celtic email

Australia head coach Graham Arnold has defended his decision to leave out Tom Rogic from the friendly against Oman.

The Celtic player missed the 5-0 win in Dubai due to his club's concerns over his fitness, Arnold explained.

Former Socceroos keeper Mark Bosnich, now a pundit for Fox Sports, criticised the coach for not using Rogic in the match, tweeting that it was "very poor" to have taken him away from the Old Firm derby against Rangers just to rest him.

But the coach said he'd had an email from Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers asking him not to use the midfielder against Oman due to a knee issue.

"He's got a small knee issue and it blew up on the plane, on the flight," added Arnold, who took over from Bert van Marwijk after last year's World Cup. "He's here because he wants to be here. The most important thing is the fitness and the health of the kid.

"Celtic asked us not to play him; we have emails to prove it."

Rogic, who has been carrying the knee injury all season, trained on the eve of the Oman game, but only lightly and away from the main group.

Arnold expects the 26-year-old to be fit for next weekend's Asian Cup opener against Jordan.

Skipper Mark Milligan was happy with the team's performance in their final warm-up match before the tournament and feels they will be able to take confidence into the Jordan clash.

"We wanted to use [it) to fine-tune a few things, and we wanted to get into the habit of scoring goals," said Milligan. "We've already gotten into the habit of scoring goals in training and we wanted to continue that; we ticked a number of boxes."

Australia are 3/10 to win their first game at the Asian Cup against Jordan, who are 9/1, with the draw 4/1.

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Jeggo called up for Asian Cup defence

Australia have named James Jeggo as their replacement for the injured Aaron Mooy for next month's Asian Cup.

Jeggo, who plays for Austria Wien, made his Socceroos debut last month in a friendly against Lebanon.

He came on as a second-half substitute in the 3-0 victory and gets the nod to join the squad that is out to defend their trophy.

Mooy is ruled out, along with young gun Daniel Arzani who picked up a knee injury while playing for Celtic.

Coach Graham Arnold said: "James has thrived at club level playing in a defensive midfield role and with three attacking central midfielders already in the squad, we felt we needed someone with James' attributes to provide some depth in that area."

The Socceroos have been boosted by news that Mathew Leckie will probably be fit for the tournament, which for them starts against Jordan in Al Ain on 6th January.

Leckie limped off with a hamstring injury during Hertha Berlin's Bundesliga clash with Bayer Leverkusen at the weekend.

But he will join the Socceroos camp in the UAE in the coming days and undergo an assessment by Australia's medical team, with an initial assessment indicating the injury won't rule him out.

Tom Rogic looks to have overcome a knee problem, though he won't be able to play for Celtic in the Old Firm derby next weekend.

Australia have turned down approaches to allow their players to play in key matches in Scotland at the weekend – Mark Milligan, Jamie Maclaren and Martin Boyle are the other players affected.

Arnold insisted he'd been "extremely fair" in relaxing the meet-up date for his pre-Asian Cup preparations but Fifa regulations made it clear they were entitled to call up the four players.

The Socceroos will face Oman in their final pre-cup warm up on 30th December.

Arnold said: "I didn't decide the Fifa rules that mean we have a right to call players up before the tournament.
The reality is other nations are gathering their squads earlier than we are and are playing games."

Australia are 6/1 to win the Asian Cup.

The Socceroos are 2/9 to win their first game against Jordan, who are 12/1 with the draw 5/1.

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Rodgers rubbishes talk of Griffiths rift

Brendan Rodgers is down to the bare bones for Sunday's Betfred League Cup semi-final against Hearts at Murrayfield, the Celtic boss admits.

Captain Scott Brown is out, with Leigh Griffiths and Jozo Simunovic joining him and Rodgers ready to wait until the last minute for Tom Rogic.

Rodgers was forced to field inexperienced duo Lewis Morgan and Ryan Christie against Leipzig in the Europa League on Thursday as his side fell to a 2-0 loss in Germany.

Odsonne Edouard appears likely to be the sole striking option for Celtic ahead of their tussle with Scottish Premiership leaders Hearts.

"We want to get [Leigh Griffiths] back. He's an important member of our squad," Rodgers said.

"We've got one fit striker, a young striker, at the moment, so hopefully we can get him back fit and well very soon."

Rodgers was also keen to dismiss any suggestions of a fall-out between himself and Griffiths. The forward pulled out of the Scotland squad this month to focus on his fitness and hasn't featured since.

His manager confirmed that Griffiths is suffering from illness and is being closely monitored.

"He hasn't been well. He didn't go away with the international team, then he got injured and then he has been ill for a number of days now," he added.

"He has been connecting every day with our head physiotherapist, Tim (Williamson), and he probably gets about 20 messages a day off him, so there's no chance you're not connecting with Leigh.

"That's just the way it is sometimes with social media. There's always a bit of tittle-tattle which runs and takes its own life with these stories."

Celtic are 13/20 to beat Hearts at Murrayfield on Sunday. The Jambos, with only one league defeat in ten games and a victory over Celtic already this season, are 4/1 while the draw is 3/1.

Australian international Rogic notched a double against Hibs last week before missing the Leipzig game and Rodgers is keen to give him every chance to feature at Murrayfield.

"You see the form he's been in these last few weeks. That real aggressive aspect has returned to his game and he's linked up well with James Forrest so, if we can get him in, he's a big-game player," the Hoops boss added.

"He enjoys these occasions and normally gets the big goals in the big games so it would be good to have him available."

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Arnold picks five uncapped players

New coach Graham Arnold has named five uncapped players in his first Australia squad.

Attacking midfielder Denis Genreau and striker John Iredale, who both play their club football in Holland, are in the 31-man squad for Arnold's first training camp.

Genreau is on loan with PEC Zwolle in the Eredivisie from Melbourne City, while Iredale plays for SC Heerenveen.

Former Sydney FC coach Arnold, who succeeded Bert van Marwijk after the World Cup in Russia, said the camp was the start of a new phase for the Socceroos.

He's picked Scotland-based left back Ben Garuccio and midfielder Kenneth Dougall, who plays for Barnsley, for next week's trip to Antalya, Turkey.

Former Adelaide United winger Awer Mabil is another of the attacking players hoping to break into a side that is desperate for new attacking options following the retirement of Tim Cahill.

Australia will honour Cahill – who retired after the World Cup having scored 50 goals in 107 games – before Arnold's second game in charge.

That will be against Lebanon at Sydney's ANZ Stadium on 20th November, three days after the game against South Korea at Suncorp Stadium.

Arnold said the main focus would be on developing his new-look squad, bringing in new faces and imposing his style on the team.

"Over the coming months we will have three clear opportunities to develop as a squad ahead of the Asian Cup," he added.

"We will start this process next week with our camp in Turkey and continue to build in October.

"In November, the fixtures that have been scheduled in Brisbane and Sydney will provide us with valuable match minutes against strong Asian opponents, and this will only help us to improve as a team."

The new coach has recalled defender Bailey Wright, striker Apostolos Giannou and goalkeeper Mitch Langerak.

Three of Australia's World Cup players, Mathew Leckie, Tom Rogic and Andrew Nabbout, are unavailable due to injury.

Meanwhile, Genreau's Zwolle side are 12/5 to win their next game against FC Groningen, who are 21/20 with the draw 5/2.

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Hunger key for Celtic

Brendan Rodgers has praised the attitude of his Celtic squad as they stand on the verge of an historic double-treble in Saturday's Scottish Cup final at Hampden Park.

The Hoops are 90 minutes away from becoming the first Scottish club in history to secure back-to-back domestic clean sweeps.

After going unbeaten domestically throughout the whole of the 2016/17 season, Rodgers feels Celtic have really shown a determination to succeed this season.

The quality of football on show hasn't always been of the same standard but the Parkhead boss insists the attitude has always been perfect.

"The key thing was to try and make sure that the players came back with that hunger to still win titles," he said.

"When you win the treble, like we did last year, you're asking players to press that 10, 15 metres on the pitch and sometimes when you win, you can go a bit soft and you don't quite do that.

"But these players have given absolutely everything. This is our 61st competitive game on Saturday and every game they've given their best shot.

"They had the right intent and we now have the chance to create more history."

Rodgers on Thursday tied up a deal that keeps Australian midfielder Tom Rogic, who scored the winner against Aberdeen in last year's cup final, at the club for another five years.

Celtic are 7/1 to beat Motherwell 3-0 in the Scottish Cup final. The Steelmen are 10/1 to win the game while Rogic is 13/10 to score a goal in the 90 minutes.

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