Australia's Asian Cup hopes have been dealt a huge blow after it was confirmed star midfielder Aaron Mooy will be out for three months with a knee injury.
The Huddersfield Town schemer suffered a torn medial collateral ligament in his right knee during the Terriers' 1-0 defeat to Arsenal last Saturday. It was hoped that the former Melbourne City and Western Sydney man had sustained only minor damage, but the Premier League strugglers confirmed on Wednesday the 28-year-old would be out until at least the end of February.
"I'm gutted to be missing an important time for club and country," Mooy told Huddersfield's official website. "We've got a lot of fixtures over the Christmas period at Huddersfield Town, but I back the team to continue our good performances and get the results that we're targeting.
"I'm also sad that this injury will rule me out of the Asian Cup. I'd like to wish the Socceroos all the best as they head to the UAE. I'll be supporting them from afar.
"The hard work on my recovery has already started and I'm looking forward to being back out on the pitch."
Socceroos coach Graham Arnold will name his squad for the tournament later this month, with the team beginning their defence of the title they won in 2015 against Jordan on Jan. 5 in Abu Dhabi.
Huddersfield, who sit third from bottom in the Premier League table, have also lost inspirational skipper Tommy Smith until after Christmas after the centre-back tore his hamstring. Coach David Wagner admitted the loss of two of his best players was tough to take.
"The news on both Aaron and Tommy is not something we wanted, but injuries are part of football; we have to deal with it, manage it and carry on into this important December period," Wagner said. "Aaron and Tommy are both strong characters and will work very hard in their recovery. We look forward to having them back.
"For now, this creates opportunities for others.
"I've said all along that we will need everyone in the squad to contribute and now we should see the benefits of having such a competitive squad."