Is a rolled ankle about to cost Australia a place at the World Cup?
After sustaining the injury on the eve of do-or-die qualifiers with Honduras, Socceroos star Tim Cahill is spending Saturday receiving treatment in a bid to fly to Central America.
Neither Cahill, his A-League club Melbourne City or the national team are commenting on the severity of the injury.
Instead, Sydney FC and ex-Socceroos coach Graham Arnold has urged the country to cross fingers for the health Australia’s all-time leading scorer.
Cahill was forced from the field in Friday night’s 1-0 A-League loss to Sydney FC at AAMI Park after landing awkwardly in attempting to hurdle Sky Blues defender Jordi Buijs.
The 37-year-old was able to walk and put weight on the ankle but was whisked away to hospital for scans.
Cahill was due to leave Melbourne on Sunday, a 30-hour journey involving three flights to arrive in San Pedro Sula.
Given the inflammation involved with a rolled ankle, it’s not an ideal scenario for Cahill or the Socceroos’ hopes of qualifying for the 2018 tournament in Russia.
Cahill missed City’s Saturday morning recovery session, opting to recuperate at home in an attempt to make his flights as planned.
The avid social media user put a solitary quote on his Twitter and Instagram account on Saturday, which reads ‘You become what you think. So think positively’.
— TIM CAHILL (@Tim_Cahill) November 3, 2017
Cahill’s importance to the Socceroos was underlined in their most recent qualifier.
The veteran scored twice and played the full 120 minutes in Australia’s second leg victory against Syria to set up the showdown with Honduras.
It’s why Arnold, who coached Cahill as Socceroos boss a decade ago, has suggested Australian fans should say a little prayer.
“Lets all keep our fingers crossed he’s OK,” Arnold said.
“I just want us to qualify and we need our best team out there.
” Timmy’s our star.
“You can’t give (enough) credit for someone who does so much for the country.
“Against Syria, over 120 minutes, what he did was phenomenal.
“I’m sure he’s OK. He’ll be ready at least for the return leg here in Australia.”
The away leg with Honduras will be played on November 11, before the return tie in Sydney on November 15.
Melbourne City coach Joyce defended his decision to give Cahill a first start of the season ahead of the crunch qualifiers.
“Timmy’s desperate to play. He’s been training hard. It’s a big game. We’re trying to win a big game. That’s it,” he said.
“The fact the national team coach (might have wanted him to rest) has got no bearing on it.”