Viduka poses fresh problem for club

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The Independent Football

The Leeds striker Mark Viduka's club-versus-country row is a prime example of the biggest problem facing international football, according to his international coach, Frank Farina.

Viduka could miss Leeds' vital Premiership match against Manchester United at Old Trafford on 21 February because of commitments with Australia in South America. Viduka, who has missed several games in Leeds' fight against relegation because his father was taken ill, is due to travel to Caracas to play for his country against Venezuela in a friendly on 18 February.

If Viduka plays for Australia he may not make it back to England in time face the Premiership champions.

Farina believes it is up to the game's world governing body, Fifa, to solve such conflicts between club and country. He said: "It's a tough one. I think this is the biggest problem that faces international football around the world. I think you have to talk to Fifa about it. It's unfair, but they are situations that come up."

With Leeds battling to avoid relegation and the financial implications for the cash-strapped club, Farina is not taking Viduka's attendance for granted.

"As an international manager, and with what I've experienced in the last four years, I'm not confident of anything," he said. "I hope that everyone ends up happy at the end of the day."

As well as Viduka, Farina also has doubts about Harry Kewell, who has an ankle injury, for the Venezuela game despite naming the two strikers in his 20-man squad on Wednesday.

"Viduka expressed concerns, as have a number of players, because logistically it's a nightmare in terms of travel to Venezuela. I left it with Mark," Farina said. "I've named the squad and I'm expecting everyone to be there. But like any other time I announce the squad, nothing really happens until the weekend of the last game before the international."

Farina left Paul Okon out of his squad for the trip to Caracas but Australia's captain said he was confident he could force his way back into the side in the future.

"I am fully fit and training very hard at my new team KV Oostende in Belgium," Okon said. "Frank Farina has assured me that regular football will bring me back into contention for selection in future Socceroos matches."

The Rangers defender, Craig Moore, is a contender to replace Okon as captain against Venezuela.

Blackburn are doubly affected by Wednesday's squad announcement, with Brett Emerton and Lucas Neill both called up and Rovers travelling to Charlton on 21 February.

Mark Schwarzer, of Middlesbrough, will find it difficult to return to the north-east in time for the derby against Newcastle, although Stan Lazaridis has an extra day to prepare for Birmingham's trip to Aston Villa on the Sunday.

AUSTRALIA squad for Caracas: Aloisi (Osasuna, Spain), Bresciano (Parma, Italy), Chipperfield (Basel, Switzerland), Colosimo (Parramatta, Australia), Elrich (Parramatta), Emerton (Blackburn Rovers, England), Grella (Empoli, Italy), Kewell (Liverpool, England), Laybutt (Royal Excelsior, Belgium), Lazaridis (Birmingham City, England), Moore (Rangers, Scotland), Muscat (Millwall, England), Neill (Blackburn Rovers, England), Petkovic (Trabzonspor, Turkey), Popovic (Crystal Palace, England), Schwarzer (Middlesbrough, England), Skoko (Genclerbirligi, Turkey), Sterjovski (Lille, France), Vidmar (Cardiff City, Wales), Viduka (Leeds United, England).