A couple of weeks ago, after the AFL judicial system rules were bent this way and that to give Barry Hall every chance of being available to captain the Sydney Swans to its fairytale premiership, I flippantly observed “who expects sport to be fair?”

Look no further than this weekend’s must-win World Cup qualifying game for England against Austria to see how fair sport can be when it’s your own backyard you’re looking after. England fans are already in mild apoplexy at any suggestion of defeat after its recent diabolical results, which offer up the possibility of failing to directly qualify for Germany next year.

Tell me about the English Premier League managers standing in the way of England players going into camp until the last possible minute under prevailing FIFA regulations. How
surprising to see now struggling Everton claiming excessive tiredness with Tim Cahill as the Socceroos’ fault, or injuries that so frequently flare up for the scattered Aussies throughout Europe when Australia’s international fixtures come up regardless of whether they’re vital friendlies like Sunday’s crucial match against Jamaica, or actual far flung World Cup qualifying games themselves.

While England anxiously awaits the outcome from this weekend’s must win World Cup match against Austria, you haven’t been reading about a club holding back anyone from its England squad, or begrudging a line-ball injured selection from being given every opportunity to prove his fitness to represent his country.

Ironically to Liverpool’s absolute credit, Harry Kewell, after a relatively indifferent record of representing his country over the years, and yet to play a Premier League game this season after yet another comeback from serious injuries in recent seasons, is to be fully involved in this week’s camp in Holland and Sunday’s game at Fulham’s Craven Cottage ground.

However, you can bet Liverpool will have sought an assurance as to what sort of game time Kewell would be subjected to if he does take the field at any stage.

Sunday represents Australia’s last competitive chance for new manager Guus Hiddink to try and fit a few more pieces into his ultimate team selection jigsaw for the final two-leg qualifying cup play-off spot decider against the still to be decided fifth best South American team.

SBS will show the Jamaica game live from Fulham’s Craven Cottage ground from 9.30pm.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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