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Feb 7, 2009

Socceroos lose Kewell for qualifier

Harry Kewell will miss Australia's key World Cup qualifier against Japan on Wednesday after failing to make his comeback for his Turkish club at the weekend.

Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek left the door open for Kewell to come in as late addition when he announced his 22-man squad announced last week.

But he said Kewell, who has been sidelined since having a hernia operation two months ago, first needed to demonstrate his fitness with his club Galatasary.

Kewell did not play in Galatasaray's 1-1 draw with Kayserispor, effectively ruling him out of a trip to Yokohama to join the national team.

The news was better for other Socceroos who were in action for their clubs.

In-form Everton striker Tim Cahill was put in cotton wool after 77 minutes as his English Premiership team cruised to a 3-0 win over Bolton.

In Scotland, forward Scott McDonald scored in Celtic's 2-1 victory over Queen's Park, ensuring he will hit Japan in good form.

McDonald headed home his side's second goal to give Celtic a 2-0 halftime lead.

The Socceroos were due to arrive in Yokohama on Sunday and Monday for the clash, in which they can take a big stride towards qualifying for the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa.

Meanwhile, former Socceroos skipper Mark Viduka made a low-key return to the English Premier League as a substitute in Newcastle United's 3-2 win over West Bromwich Albion.

The Australian, who has played just four games this season, watched most of the match from the bench before replacing Shola Ameobi at the 80-minute mark.

Viduka immediately sprang into action, heading the ball into the path of midfielder Peter Lovenkrands who was unlucky not to convert his left-footed shot from deep inside the penalty area.

The 33-year-old's return came six weeks after Magpies supporters chanted "you're not fit to wear the shirt" when he limped off the pitch with a groin injury during Newcastle's 2-1 defeat to Wigan Athletic.

That match was Viduka's first start for the season following three appearances off the bench after an Achilles injury kept him out for six months until last November.

He is under pressure to perform during the rest of the season or risk missing out on a chance to extend his contract, which expires in June.

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