Towering striker Josh Kennedy has arrived in Dubai to give Socceroos boss Pim Verbeek an extra attacking dimension in Sunday's 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifier against Iraq, Australian media reported Thursday.
German-based Kennedy, who provides the Socceroos with an added aerial threat, missed Australia's 1-0 victory over the Iraqis in Brisbane last Sunday. Kennedy has not played for several weeks after suffering an ankle injury with his Bundesliga club, Karlsruhe, in April.
Newspapers said Kennedy has completed rehabilitation and returned to training ahead of his rushed trip to Dubai.
Kennedy is an expectant father with his wife due to give birth soon. The striker may play some role against Iraq, but if his wife has the child, he will likely return to be with her, reports said.
"To be a starting player in the national team, that's always my goal," Kennedy told Australian reporters in Dubai. "With the circumstances now, I'm not fit and I'm not ready to start. But if I was fit, I'd have hoped to play the 90 minutes. With the wife being pregnant and almost ready to give birth, I can't stay for much longer. I'm fit enough and ready to sit on the bench and do my part."
While Kennedy has joined the squad in Dubai, it is understood Lucas Neill, the West Ham skipper and mainstay of the Socceroos defence, is still with his partner after she gave birth to twins in London on Monday. If Neill, who missed the match in Brisbane, is not able to play against Iraq this weekend, reports said he may be available for the second match of the Socceroos' Middle East campaign, against Qatar in Doha on 14 June.
A victory in either match will guarantee unbeaten Australia a place in the final phase of Asian World Cup qualification, starting in September.