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Europa League round of 16 draw

Europa League
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By ESPN Staff

Viduka shelves plans to quit international stage

SYDNEY, Sept 12 (Reuters) - Australia captain Mark Viduka has shelved plans to retire from international football, saying he wants to rejoin the Socceroos for next year's Asian Cup.

Viduka had considered quitting after Australia's heartbreaking World Cup loss to eventual champions Italy but has changed his mind.

The Middlesbrough striker missed Australia's two Asian Cup qualifiers against Kuwait because his wife is pregnant.

She is due to give birth in October, around the same time Australia play a friendly with Paraguay and their final Asian Cup qualifier against Bahrain.

Viduka said he had made a deal with Australia's caretaker coach Graham Arnold that he would miss those matches to remain with his wife but hoped to rejoin the team next year.

'I've come to an agreement with Graham because my wife is pregnant and we're by ourselves here, so I want to be with her at this time,' Viduka told Middlesbrough's official website.

'It's a big commitment playing for Australia because there's such a lot of travelling and it means being away from the family and not being able to able to concentrate fully on playing for your club.'

Australia have already qualified for next year's Asian Cup, to be held in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam in July, and are looming as one of the early favourites to win the title.