San Pedro Sula: Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou might step down from his post after the series against Honduras, even if Australia win, but his captain won't be following suit. As he prepares to make his return to the Socceroos for the first time since early June after overcoming a groin injury, Mile Jedinak quashed any suggestions of retiring at the conclusion of this World Cup cycle.
The 33-year-old says he has given no thought to stepping down despite the heavy workload of international football, vowing to continue playing for Australia to Russia and beyond - even targeting leading the Socceroos through to the 2019 Asian Cup.
"At this stage, no. Having been away for a little while it doesn't come into the thought process. Whether that happens remains to be seen but as far as I know I will give everything I can for as long as I can. Until I'm told otherwise or I decide otherwise," Jedinak said.
Jedinak's recent injury problems led to fears the veteran midfielder might have to make some tough calls regarding his international career, but his time away from the Socceroos appears to have had the opposite effect. Reduced to an interested spectator, Jedinak watched as Australia played Brazil in a friendly, went through a Confederations Cup, World Cup qualifiers against Japan, Thailand and the recent play-off against Syria. It was difficult to go from a leader to a bystander for those crucial games and that absence has only spurred him on.
"Having had a little spell away, it's probably one of the furthest things on my mind," Jedinak said. "Anyone who tells you it's a good day when they're told they're not playing for the national team again is kidding themselves. When you have a little time out now like I have - having been involved for such a long period - it's not nice. You just want to get out there and do what you possibly can to make it last for as long as you can."
Jedinak is likely to start against Honduras on Friday afternoon (Saturday morning AEDT) having returned to fitness and played twice off the bench in recent games for Aston Villa in the English Championship. The suspension of vice-captain Mark Milligan makes his place in the team all the more important but it's his leadership within the camp that could prove just as valuable.
"He brings a real presence to the game. He feels really good which is important," Postecoglou said. "From a physical wellbeing, he feels really good. Any of the boys, if they miss a camp or two they come back in with a helluva lot of enthusiasm. The other thing with him is that he's a presence within the group as well and he gives everyone else a lift."