Mounting injury list could provide problems for Australia at Asian Cup

Julian Miller
By:
Julian Miller
14/12/2023
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Melbourne City duo injuries threaten Socceroos squad

Australia’s No. 1 and two key attackers could miss January’s Asian Cup through injury.  

News Insights

  • Maty Ryan fractured his cheekbone at practice this week.
  • Mathew Leckie suffered a hamstring injury in the AFC Champions League. 
  • Jamie Maclaren is struggling with a long-term ankle injury.
  • All three players could miss the 2023 Asian Cup.

Three of the Socceroos most important and most experienced players could potentially miss the 2023 Asian Cup through injury. Maty Ryan, Mathew Leckie, and Jamie Maclaren are all injured. They could still be on the sidelines come January when Graham Arnold has to decide his 2023 Asian Cup squad.  

Melbourne City injuries hurting Socceroos 

Two Melbourne City players are at the top of the Socceroos current injury list. Winger Mathew Leckie, who had been suffering from a long-term knee injury, suffered from a hamstring injury in the Cityzens 1-1 AFC Champions league fixture against Zhejiang Professional on Tuesday night.  
 
City striker Jamie Maclaren actually replaced Leckie in that match after the winger was forced off with injury. However, the 30-year-old disclosed after the match that he is still dealing with the lingering effects of an ankle injury he suffered earlier in the season.  
 
I've just got some bone stuff in my ankle," Maclaren revealed to the media in his post-match comments. “I'll scan it tomorrow and see how bad it is. It's been a couple of weeks but obviously [I’ve done] a lot of travel and stuff. It just blows up after flights.”  
 
Both Leckie and Maclaren are to miss at least some time for Melbourne City. It’s still unknown whether they will be fit enough to play in the Asian Cup in January.  

Maty Ryan most likely to return  

One player who is likely to play at the Asian Cup for the Socceroos is Maty Ryan. The veteran goalkeeper unfortunately fractured a cheekbone in practice with his club side AZ Alkmaar.  
 
Initially, reports claimed this injury would keep Ryan out of the Socceroos’ Asian Cup squad. However, the 31-year-old has already undergone surgery for the injury and is expected to be mostly recovered come January 13. Ryan is expected to wear a protective mask during the tournament.  
 
Football Australia will submit a 50-man preliminary squad to the AFC on Thursday. Ryan, Leckie, and Maclaren will be on that list.  

Australia’s Asian Cup odds 

The Socceroos come into the 2023 Asian Cup as one of the tournament’s big favourites. Most soccer betting sites have the Aussies as either top favourites or second favourites to win the tournament outright. The one side regularly listed with shorter odds than the Socceroos is Japan. 
 
Australia start their 2023 Asian Cup journey against India on 14 January 2024 at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium in Qatar. Their remaining Group B fixtures are against Uzbekistan and Syria. By Asian confederation standards, this is a fairly competitive group. Uzbekistan have impressed recently with good results against Mexico and Iran. Barring catastrophe, Australia should make it out of the group and likely top it. 
 
Japan have drawn an easier group than Australia. The Samurai Blue will play Indonesia, Iraq, and Vietnam in Group D. Japan should top their group.  

If both Japan and Australia top their groups, as expected, we could see these two heavyweights facing off in the semifinals on 6 February. If Qatar and Iran, the other two big favourites, win their groups, they will be on the other side of the bracket and could only meet Australia in the final.