Verbeek says it's game on for Harry - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Verbeek says it's game on for Harry

By Guy Hand 01/06/2010 09:17:21 AM Comments (0)

Harry Kewell will start training with Socceroos teammates on Thursday and coach Pim Verbeek is confident the asterisk attached to his star attacker's World Cup participation will quickly be erased.

Kewell's much-publicised groin injury has led to much speculation about how much of a role he will - or can - play in South Africa.

So far he has been restricted to training on his own with light running and ball drills amid constant scrutiny from Australia's medical team and media since his arrival at the team's pre-World Cup camp in Johannesburg.

But Verbeek's timetable is for Kewell - who has played less than five minutes of football this year after more problems following groin surgery - to join his teammates for training on Thursday for the first time.

And the Dutchman is bullish the 31-year-old will not only survive unscathed, he will kick on and be ready to play whatever role is required in Australia's World Cup opener against Germany on June 13.

"Harry's okay. He'll do a tough (solo) session on Tuesday, Wednesday will be recovery for everybody, and expectation is he will start training on Thursday with us," Verbeek said.

"Then we will see if he will do full training sessions or part of the training.

"We won't take any risks with him. Physically he's okay. Mentally he's very good. He's ready."

As the World Cup nears, what has been playfully dubbed "Harry-watch" has been intense as onlookers at the Socceroos' St Stithian's College training sessions look for any signs Kewell may be struggling.

But his training ground cameos have become more public and more frequent, suggesting his constant companion - physiotherapist Les Gelis - and the healing hands of Socceroos' medics are winning the battle to get Kewell ready for the World Cup.

"When you look at his fitness levels, he's as far (advanced) as the other players," Verbeek said.

"At the moment his match fitness and match rhythm is different. He knows that also.

"But we have 10 days and he is perfectly on track. This is exactly what we had planned.

"It's a great compliment to the medical staff and fitness coaches and everybody who's dealing with this situation."

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