Cahill, Kewell looking to start

Socceroos midfielder Tim Cahill looks to have overcome a neck injury and is expected to line up in Australia’s World Cup opener against Germany on Sunday (Mon AEST) in Durban.


Cahill said he trained fully with the Socceroos on Wednesday and was expected to do so against on Thursday at a closed session.

“I don’t want to focus on injuries, and if the game was on tomorrow, I’d be there,” Cahill said on Thursday.

“I’m training fully again today so I’m very confident that if selected I’ll be able to play on the weekend.”

But for many fans, the news that one time wonder-boy Harry Kewell says he’s fit to start is even more exciting.

Kewell ready

Harry Kewell declared on Thursday he was ready to play a full match for Australia against Germany and was “up for it” at the World Cup.

The Socceroos talisman, who has only played a few minutes this year for Turkish club Galatasaray because of a groin injury, said he was “100 percent” ready for Australia’s opening game against the three-time world champions in Durban.

The former Liverpool and Leeds United forward said it was now up to coach Pim Verbeek to allow him to start as the lone striker against the Germans.

“I am happy with the way I am travelling, I am very happy with the way things are going,” Kewell told reporters at team training here late on Thursday.

“I can’t make his (Coach Pim Verbeek’s) mind up for him, he’s the one who has the final decision on who plays and what happens.

“Look, all I can be is 100 percent ready the same as any other player.”

Midfielder Brett Emerton, who had been battling a calf injury, has also declared himself fit.

It means coach Verbeek would have just one major selection call to make for the match – either starting with Josh Kennedy or risking Kewell as the lone striker.

Kennedy, Wilkshire could play major role

Kennedy, who played for several seasons in Germany, could get the nod, with Kewell perhaps injected off the bench.

Much of the two closed training sessions are believed to be about working on tactical shape and set-pieces – with defender Luke Wilkshire the key.

Wilkshire’s set-pieces and right-sided crosses have led to goals in friendly matches and he has easily been the team’s most consistent performer in a patchy lead-in to the tournament.

He has been able to tame the wild Jabulani World Cup ball to create goals for Cahill against the United States and Kennedy versus Denmark.

Meanwhile, Hollywood star John Travolta arrived in South Africa on Thursday and will meet with the Socceroos on Friday at their luxurious base camp at Kloofzicht Lodge, near Johannesburg.

Travolta has had a long-running association with the Socceroos since their remarkable World Cup qualification in Sydney in 2005, and is involved with their major sponsor Qantas as a company ambassador.