Aussies close in on fitness

  • By: Jamie Casey
  • Last Updated: May 29 2010, 17:30 BST

Australia boss Pim Verbeek believes his squad are nearing peak condition ahead of the World Cup finals.

Pim Verbeek - preparing his troops for action in South Africa.

The Aussies have a number of minor worries within their camp but injuries to Harry Kewell, Mark Schwarzer and Brett Emerton are not expected to dent their hopes of being included in Verbeek's final 23-man squad.

After a below-par showing in last week's 2-1 win over New Zealand, Verbeek will be hoping for an improved display when Australia take on Denmark on Tuesday before their final warm up friendly against USA.

"We know we were rusty against New Zealand and that we have to improve our organisation," said Verbeek, who was Guus Hiddink's assistant with Australia in the 2006 World Cup.

"We also have to work on our communication when we don't have the ball and that is why you play friendlies," he said.

"The Denmark game, for me, is an extension of the training we are doing. The most important one will be against the United States when we will be 100 per cent fit.

"I expect us to be up to about 90 per cent fit for Denmark. Then we will have two weeks to get ourselves ready for the first match."

Fulham keeper Schwarzer, Australia's first choice, sat out the game with New Zealand with a thumb injury but he expects to recover in time to participate in his second World Cup.

"I'm feeling much better and I'm just glad to be back training again," said the former Middlesbrough stopper.

"It was a blowout today and my thumb was holding up really well so hopefully I will get selected against Denmark.

"There are a lot of players here who played in 2006, but the atmosphere is different because we have a different coach.

"I think a lot of guys here realise this is probably their last chance to play in a World Cup and we want to make the most of it."

Meanwhile, Blackburn midfielder Emerton is nursing a calf strain but is confident he will recover as Australia prepare to face Germany, Ghana and Serbia in Group D in South Africa.

"I've just been taking it easy but I'll hopefully be back in training tomorrow [Sunday]," Emerton said.

"I'm fine - we just have to look at the bigger picture and make sure I'm ready for the first match against Germany. Missing one or two games now is better than being unfit in two weeks."

Former Liverpool playmaker Kewell is having trouble with a persistent groin problem and the 'Socceroos' will be keen to nurse him to full fitness after a prolific club season with Galatasary.