Viduka would be welcomed back with open arms
Qantas Socceroos players say they will welcome Mark Viduka back with open arms if the veteran striker still wants play in the World Cup next year.
DUBAI, June 3 AAP - Qantas Socceroos players say they will welcome Mark Viduka back with open arms if the veteran striker still wants play in the World Cup next year.
Viduka last week opted not to make a long-awaited international return for Australia's qualifiers against Qatar, Bahrain and Japan this month, a decision which has cast serious doubt over his playing future.
It is feared the 33-year-old, who is off contract after Newcastle were relegated from the English Premier League, has played his last match for Australia and is considering retirement from all forms of football.
But some of Australia's biggest stars have not given up hope he could still join them in South Africa next year if, as expected, they clinch qualification.
"Mark is always welcome back in this team," winger Harry Kewell said from Dubai ahead of Sunday morning's (AEST) clash with Qatar in Doha.
"He is a very, very valuable player for this squad when he's playing on song.
"I heard the last couple of games for Newcastle he was doing really well and he's just unlucky they didn't stay up.
"We always welcome great players and you never know what is going to happen."
Striker Scott McDonald, who would be a likely strike partner for Viduka, said enticing back the big forward would give the Australia's World Cup hopes a huge boost.
"Of course, he's a massive asset to this nation," McDonald said.
"Hopefully he continues playing next year, because we don't know if that's going to be the case.
"If he does then hopefully we can convince him to come back because a player like that to add to your squad would be massive."