Blackburn's Emerton facing club v country row

Australia's new head coach, Pim Verbeek, has indicated he wants to call up the former Feyenoord star for the Socceroos' opening World Cup qualifier with Qatar in Melbourne on February 6.

Football Federation Australia's (FFA) head of high performance, John Boultbee, said: "Pim is on the phone to European-based players already to talk to them (about their plans).

"Some have indicated that they would try to work with their clubs to miss the league game before the February 6 match.

"That might be wishful thinking on the part of some of them.

"As they are only available 48 hours before the game, we would have to decide whether it was worthwhile anyway.

"It would be difficult unless there's an agreement with the clubs for them to miss the weekend before."

Rovers boss Mark Hughes is hoping common sense will prevail in this instance because he believes the timing of Australia's qualifier would place unnecessary demands on Emerton's body.

"We've always supported all the guys on international dates. There's never a problem with us trying to pull people back," explained Hughes to the Lancashire Telegraph.

"The only time we speak to associations regarding availability is when it's a concern to us that the players would suffer physically if they did go.

"That's the only time when we would question their availability."

Emerton also agrees the timing of the Qatar game is far from ideal, and he believes a more practical solution might be to include more Australian-based players for certain qualifiers.

"If I played at the weekend for my club and then had another game on the Wednesday with Australia, that's almost impossible," said the Rovers midfielder.

"I'd be arriving the day before the match and I don't think that would be smart anyway.

"Even if the Australian Federation wanted us to come back, I don't think our bodies would be in any shape to take part in the game, so it's probably best that we stay in Europe."

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