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Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Osieck denies FFA interference

Australia coach Holger Osieck has denied suggestions he was pressurised by Football Federation Australia into leaving both Brett Emerton and Harry Kewell out of his squad for two international assignments next month.

The move means Emerton will now go head to head with Kewell in the highly anticipated A-League opener when Sydney FC travel to Melbourne to play the Victory at Etihad Stadium.

It was believed the much-hyped match-up wouldn't eventuate with that fixture sandwiched between a friendly against Malaysia in Canberra on October 7 and a World Cup qualifier against Oman in Sydney four days later.

While it was expected Emerton would be allowed to miss the friendly to play for the Sky Blues before joining the squad for the qualifier, Osieck has opted to omit the veteran Socceroos midfielder altogether.

Osieck said the fact Emerton and Kewell had only just started training with their new clubs and had been out of competitive football for a number of weeks was the main reason they were left out of his squad.

"I can assure you I'm the master of my own decisions," Osieck said. "It's written down in my contract and I always can refer to that. I don't need a lawyer - I'm capable of defending my position myself.

"If I insisted then the league had no chance but to release the players, but I outlined the technical reasons why I didn't pick Harry or Emo. I don't care what happens in November, if the players are in shape and if they are good enough they will be invited.

"I don't care what club commitments they have then, the league has to solve the problem and not the national team coach."

Asked if Emerton was a chance to be called into the squad if a player picked up an injury in the Malaysia game, Osieck said: "I don't consider a camp like a shop with a revolving door that everybody can come in and out whenever he wants.

"It's a closed affair and I'm very strict and very adamant in how things go. It won't happen. We start the game together with that group of 19 players and we go through it.

"I'm confident that even if there was an occurrence with injury I have enough opportunities to use players in different positions where they can equally perform on a decent level."

While Emerton was a surprise omission, there were few other shocks with Lucas Neill to skipper the side which includes mainstays Mark Schwarzer, Luke Wilkshire and Brett Holman and Matt McKay.

Midfielder Tim Cahill was also included and Osieck was confident he would be fit for both games despite suffering a shin injury while playing for Everton in the English Premier League at the weekend.

Cahill was surprisingly left on the bench in Australia's last World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia with Holman and Josh Kennedy combining well in attack.

"I don't want you to get the wrong idea when for one tactical reason I benched Timmy in the Saudi Arabia game that he's now a fringe player," Osieck said. "That would be stupid. Tim is one of our cornerstones of the team."

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