Late blow for the Socceroos as Nathaniel Atkinson is ruled out for must-win World Cup clash against Tunisia as Graham Arnold hints at recall for Serie A star Ajdin Hrustic in Qatar
Nathaniel Atkinson has been ruled out of Australia’s clash against Tunisia on Saturday, but Ajdin Hrustic has been deemed fit to start in a major boost for the Socceroos.
Atkinson suffered an ankle injury in the 4-1 defeat against France on Wednesday morning (AEDT) and was pictured with ice strapped to the join after the game.
Nathaniel Atkinson will miss Australia’s clash against Tunisia on Saturday
The right-back did not train on Friday and is expected to be replaced by full-back Fran Karacic, with Thomas Deng and Milos Degenek also viable alternatives.
Atkinson endured a torrid night against France and was repeatedly exposed by Kylian Mbappe in the Socceroos’ World Cup opener.
‘It’s an eye-opener,’ the 23-year-old, who plies his trade for Hears in the SPL, told reporters after being torched by the flashy Frenchman.
‘There’s a reason why he’s earning $200million a year and I am where I am.’
The right-back picked up an ankle injury in the 4-1 loss to France on Wednesday morning
Atkinson was given a torrid time by Kylian Mbappe (above) as France ran rampant
Atkinson gave away possession cheaply with a poor touch which led to France’s second goal and looked uncomfortable throughout the game as the PSG star ran riot.
Coach Graham Arnold, however, insisted the defender retained his support.
‘I just said to Nathaniel Atkinson: “You’re going to remember this for the rest of your life, mate,’ the Socceroos boss said.
‘”You’re going to sit there in 20 years’ time when you retire, with a beer in your hand, telling everyone how you played against one of the best players in the world.”
‘You’ve got to look at the positives and what that kid’s gonna learn out of it. It’s these types of experiences that you’ve got to focus more on, and to pick them up.’
Ajdin Hrustic has recovered from an ankle injury he sustained with Hellas Verona last month
And Socceroos boss Graham Arnold has deemed the playmaker fit to start against Tunisia in a must-win clash for Australia
There was better news on the injury front for Arnold, who confirmed Hrustic was fit to start against Tunisia in a game the Socceroos must not lose if they are to retain any hope of reaching the knockout stages.
The Hellas Verona playmaker suffered an ankle ligament last month and was only fit enough for a spot on the bench against France. But Arnold noted Hrustic was now a 95 percent of start on Saturday.
‘[Hrustic] can start,’ he said.
‘We’ll see how he is […] and make sure he’s ready to go.’