DIMI Petratos may have missed an opportunity to impress Graham Arnold first up but the star Jets attacker remains firmly in the plans of the new Socceroos coach ahead of the Asian Cup defence in Qatar in January.
A minor ankle injury forced the 26-year-old to withdraw from a training camp on Turkey this week, Arnold’s first in charge after taking the reins from Bert van Marwijk at the completion of the World Cup.
Petratos went to Russia but did not play a minute. He and Wanderers fullback Josh Risdon were the only A-League players in the 30-man squad selected for the camp in Antalya.
“I spoke at length to Graham Arnold and he fully understands,” Jets coach Ernie Merrick said. “Dimi knows he is still in the frame and is not ruled out because of one injury and missing a training camp. From Dimi’s point of view, he wants to be at his best in front of the national coach. He doesn’t want to be limping around and not being at his best. It works for both that he stays here, gets fit and doesn’t waste time travelling and his ankle swells up more. Graham Arnold will certainly keep an eye on him and bring him in later for a game.”
The Socceroos’ next assemble for the clash against Lebanon at ANZ Stadium on November 20, which doubles as a farewell match for Tim Cahill.
Petratos suffered a grade one tear to a ligament in his ankle during the Jets’ 1-0 to Melbourne City in the FFA Cup round of 16 last Wednesday.
“It is a 10-day-to-two-week injury,” Merrick said. “He will be back into training soon, albeit modified.”
Petratos will sit out the Jets’ trial against the Australian under-19s at Pluim Park on Thursday but could be available for a hit out against Sydney at Leichhardt Oval next Wednesday. The Jets also have a friendly against Western Sydney later this month.
“Dimi will be right for Wanderers, not sure about Sydney. Maybe,” Merrick said.
Though disappointed to be out of the FFA Cup, Merrick can now lock in the final seven weeks of the Jet’s pre-season.
“It is easier to plan the physical training sessions and the coaching sessions because you are not slowing things down and tapering off for competitive matches,” he said. “But matches are still very important so we will have at least two other A-League matches and maybe a third one and the under-20s game. Now there is seven weeks to go there is a big step up – double sessions – before we taper off for the final two weeks.”