Juric vows to be fighting fit for key World Cup qualifiers

Sidelined Socceroos striker Tomi Juric has vowed to be fit for March's crucial 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Iraq and UAE.

Tomi Juric

Socceroos striker Tomi Juric Source: Getty Images

Juric damaged the medial ligament in his right knee just two minutes into his Swiss club Luzern's 2-2 draw with Young Boys last month.

He was sidelined for Australia's disappointing 2-2 draw with Thailand on November 15 where his goal threat was sorely missed.

He is now four weeks into his recovery and with the Swiss league currently on a break until Febraury, the former Western Sydney striker won't have many games under his belt before Australia face Iraq on March 23 and UAE five days later.

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But despite the lack of match practice Juric insists he'll be ready.



"I went up for a header in the second minute, got pushed in the back and when I landed it wasn't good," he explains of the injury.

"I am actually fortunate it's not worse than it is and without a doubt being back for the next two qualifiers is in the back of my mind.

"They are games I definitely want to be ready for... all I can do is my best at the club now and get myself in the best shape possible.

"Each day I am getting better, which is a positive.

"It's been a bummer to be out but I am just remaining positive and working towards being fit for pre-season and we are not going to rush anything."

With four goals in 16 appearances for his new club, Juric, 25, was in the process of conjuring the sort of consistency he has craved during an injury-interrupted career when bad luck struck.

But he isn't going to let this latest mishap hinder him for long.

"It gives me confidence knowing I have started [the season] well and I've continued that, and all I need to do now is continue with that frame of mind and continue to do that in the second half of the season," said Juric, who has become a regular starter for Australia prior to his injury.

Juric, though, insists there is much still to come from him as he refined his game.



"I was happy with my form but I know I can do much better," he added.

"This injury hasn't come at the greatest time... but all I can do is work hard to get back and to hopefully score some goals."

Australia find themselves in a precarious position in theor World Cup qualifying group, witting in third place behind Japan and leaders Saudi Arabia at the halfway stage on the road to Russia 2018.

Juric admits they have put themselves in a "tough situation".

That said, he remains optimistic that with three of their last five qualifiers at home the Socceroos can still finish in the top two in their group land an automatic World Cup spot.

"It's definitely something we can get out of... we are still in a strong position even though it's not the one we pictured ourselves in," he said.

"It is what it is ... we have to deal with it.

"The performance against Thailand wasn't what the lads and the boss were after, I can guarantee you that.

"We didn't look like ourselves and as a spectator it was very frustrating. I was watching the TV and wishing I was there.



"Japan are doing well and the Saudis too, but I still believe we can qualify, without a doubt. With those home games to come, it gives us a big advantage."

With Australia drawn to face the might of Germany, Chile and the yet to be crowned African champions at next June's Confederations Cup, Juric said: "Aussies have never had it easy, have they?

"We have done well against Germany before and will know what to expect from Chile.

"As Australians, we always enjoy a challenge - it's what brings out the best in us."


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Published 6 December 2016 at 9:22am