Kye Rowles injury timetable revealed as Hearts centre-back targets World Cup
The Australian international fractured his metatarsal while scoring his first Hearts goal against St Johnstone on August 28 and is still on crutches, but his Socceroos and Jambo teammate is expecting him to play “three or four” games in maroon before the World Cup, which kicks off on November 19.
Atkinson insists Rowles is a stick-on to be named in the Socceroos squad, even though he is this missing the week’s double-header against New Zealand – the last two matches before manager Graham Arnold names his 26-man squad for Qatar.
The left-footed centre-back remains in Edinburgh this week continuing his rehabilitation work, but Atkinson explained that all is going according to plan.
“Kye is strong mentally,” he said. “It’s unfortunate for him to have picked up an injury at this stage, but he’s been blessed by the predicted timeframe because he is hoping to be back in time to get three of four games for Hearts under his belt before the World Cup.
“I think he was probably the best Socceroos player in the qualifiers. The way he started the season at Hearts showed that he is definitely going to be a walk-in for the Socceroos. But he’s staying positive and he knows he has something to work towards.
“I had the same situation a year ago with the Olympics and I’ve spoken to him about it, so he definitely knows it is possible to come back strong.
“He’s still on his crutches, but hopefully in the next couple of weeks he’ll be weight-bearing and then after that it's just about managing the pain. He’ll be back running and he’ll be back playing before you know it.”
Hearts have eight games in October and four more in November against Istanbul Basaksehir, Motherwell, Rangers and then Livingston on November 12. Australia’s opening World Cup group match is against France on November 20. Denmark and Tunisia are also in their group.