Duva’s XI: Strange reason striker won’t face former club

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Premier League: Watford and Brighton shared the points following a 1-1 draw in their Premier League clash.

Heidelberg United will kick off the NPL Victoria season against South Melbourne on Friday.Source:News Corp Australia

Western United has set the scene for another fiery clash with A-League finals rival Brisbane Roar by blocking striker Scott McDonald from featuring in the crunch fixture.

McDonald exited Western United last month to link up with Robbie Fowler’s Roar after tensions rose between the veteran attacker and boss Mark Rudan.

McDonald won’t have the chance to get one over his old employer due to a clause inserted in the deal which sent him north.

Plus, the latest talking points from world football including Mile Jedinak’s future, Kevin Muscat’s start to life in Belgium and could Lionel Messi really leave Barcelona?

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1 RETURN OF THE JEDI?

Mile Jedinak has not played since leaving Aston Villa last May, but the former Socceroos skipper has not yet retired.

Jedinak, 35, is training solo with a view to playing on, and has been using the facilities at Villa, where his two older kids – Andre, nine and Alex, six – are training at the Premier League club’s academy.

Central Coast, Jedinak’s first A-League club, Melbourne Victory, Western Sydney and A-League expansion club Macurthur Rams, who enter next season, headline the A-League clubs who have tried to sign him.

Former Socceroos skipper Mile Jedinak hasn’t retired despite not playing since last May.

Former Socceroos skipper Mile Jedinak hasn’t retired despite not playing since last May.Source:News Corp Australia

However Birmingham-based Jedinak’s preference is to remain abroad, for family reasons and because he has an eye on a potential coaching career.

Jedinak is completing his UEFA A License, and has a big future in coaching, having worked under Australia’s best in Ange Postecoglou, Tony Popovic and Graham Arnold, plus stints under several international managers.

He’s a student of the game and began setting his sights on coaching after joining Crystal Palace in 2011.

Scott McDonald rues a missed opportunity during his short stint with Western United.

Scott McDonald rues a missed opportunity during his short stint with Western United.Source:AAP

Scott McDonald gets a shot away for Brisbane Roar against Western Sydney Wanderers.

Scott McDonald gets a shot away for Brisbane Roar against Western Sydney Wanderers.Source:Getty Images

2 MCDONALD’S RETURN BLOCKED

Western United took the extraordinary step of inserting a clause in ex-Socceroo Scott McDonald’s contract when he left the club for Brisbane Roar last month.

The clause blocks him from facing United on Sunday in Ballarat.

The clause is common for loan moves abroad, less so for outright transfers.

It’s understandable considering they are competing for a finals spot — Brisbane overtook United in sixth at the weekend — however it underlines the tension between McDonald and Western United boss Mark Rudan.

There is no love lost between the clubs and Rudan had a war of words with Brisbane coach Robbie Fowler in the teams last meeting at Suncorp Stadium. Ding, ding.

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3 MATILDAS LIFT
The Matildas have lifted a level since the 2019 World Cup, although Thursday’s clash with China will be their big Olympic qualifying test.

The Europe-bound crew starred, with Caitlin Foord netting a hat-trick in place of late substitute Sam Kerr and stand-in skipper Steph Catley, who could also be joining her at Arsenal, scoring a rare goal in the 7-0 win over Chinese Taipei.

Melbourne City attacker Kyah Simon impressed in her first appearance in 16 months. Matildas coach Ante Milicic and assistant Ivan Jolic have worked hard to rectify the issues from the World Cup.

Mohamed Toure became the A-League’s third youngest debutant on Saturday.

Mohamed Toure became the A-League’s third youngest debutant on Saturday.Source:AAP

4 YOUNG GUN TOURE II

Mohamed Toure – younger brother of 2019-20 breakout sensation Al Hassan Toure – produced one of the best debut performances from a teenager in Saturday night’s loss to Brisbane Roar.

Age 15 years and 320 days, Toure became the A-League’s third youngest debutant and caused Brisbane Roar huge issues in a stunning 10-minute with his speed, directness, trickery and work ethic.

Born in Guinea, the younger Toure will be targeted by Liberia as his older brother was. But he is on the radar of Australia’s youth team coaches.

Melbourne City almost signed him a few months ago.

5 MOOY MAGIC

Aaron Mooy produced another top midfield display in Brighton’s decisive draw with fellow relegation scrapper Watford.

A loss would have left the Seagulls just one point above the drop zone, but a late equaliser ensured a three-point buffer from Watford and West Ham.

Socceroos teammate Mat Ryan was solid in goals, as they solidify their burgeoning Premier League reputations.

6 VICTORY’S INJURY WOE

Robbie Kruse’s latest hamstring woes should pose questions for Melbourne Victory.

Kruse will miss 6-8 weeks after he tore a hamstring moments after entering the pitch in the 2-1 loss to Melbourne City.

While Kruse has had an injury ravaged past, hamstrings were never an issue.

Friday’s injury was his third of 2019-20, and the second time he’s done his right side.

Under ex-high performance boss Anthony Crea, Victory had an impeccable soft tissue record, but Kevin Muscat’s departure coincided with a mass backroom staff exit and Victory did most of pre-season without a conditioning chief.

The injuries have compromised Victory’s season.

Had Kruse and German Tim Hoogland played most games this season, Victory would be well entrenched in the top six.

7 AUSSIE COACHES ABROAD
Kevin Muscat’s sizzling start to Belgium’s Pro League continues, with Sint-Truiden smashing AS Eupen 5-2, after recovering from a 2-1 deficit.

Muscat’s team has won three of four games since he arrived last month, scoring an impressive 10 goals.

Meanwhile Ange Postecoglou’s Yokohama F. Marinos continued their entertaining ways, losing the Japanese Super Cup in an outrageous shootout (nine straight penalties missed) after a 3-3 draw against Andres Iniesta’s Vissel Kobe.

8 SOCCEROOS WATCH

England’s League One is piquing the interest of Socceroos boss Graham Arnold, with fringe duo Ryan Williams and Bailey Wright impressing yesterday.

Winger Williams scored in Portsmouth’s 2-0 away win while Wright has made a sudden impact with fellow promotion aspirants Sunderland, leading the Black Cats to a second clean sheet in three games.

The 1-0 win over Ipswich Town took Sunderland to sixth spot.

Arnold has 35-40 players on his radar for the March World Cup qualifiers against Kuwait and Nepal.

Winger Craig Goodwin scored a brace in Saudi Arabia over the weekend, while Ajdin Hrustic (Groningen) featured in his Dutch side’s vital win.

Could Lionel Messi really leave Barcelona to play in the English Premier League?

Could Lionel Messi really leave Barcelona to play in the English Premier League?Source:AP

9 MESSI EXIT?

Could the once impossible scenario of Lionel Messi leaving Barcelona become a reality?

Rival European giants are circling after Lionel Messi’s spat with ex teammate, Barcelona sporting director Eric Abidal, who accused the players of “not working hard” under former coach Ernesto Valverde, instigating a stinging rebuke from Messi on Instagram.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner retaliated on Twitter, urging Abidal to “give names”.

Making a Messi move more plausible is the recent revelation that he has an exit clause for June.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has hosed down talk of a potential reunion.

Heidelberg United will kick off the NPL Victoria season against South Melbourne on Friday.

Heidelberg United will kick off the NPL Victoria season against South Melbourne on Friday.Source:News Corp Australia

10 NPL TAKE OFF

South Melbourne’s NSL derby with Heidelberg United (Lakeside Stadium, Friday) and the Dandenong derby between City and Thunder (George Andrews Reserve) headline the opening round Victorian NPL fixtures, with a genuine buzz surrounding the improving local competition.

Ex Socceroo Sasa Ognenovski begins his coaching journey in charge of Dandy City, who’ve got former Melbourne City midfielder Nick Kalmar back from Green Gully, while Thunder has managed to re-sign predator Brandon Barnes.

11 LEEDS UNITED’S LATEST CHOKE

Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United is treading a familiar path, stuttering at the business end of the Championship season.

Many Aussies are itching for Mark Viduka and Harry Kewell’s former club to return to the Premier League, but yesterday’s 2-0 loss to Nottingham Forrest was fourth defeat in five games and leaves Leeds clinging on to second spot, with Slaven Bilic’s West Brom on top.

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