Injured Bresciano on course for World Cup

MELBOURNE - Mark Bresciano has recovered from a back injury and will be available for Australia's World Cup warm-up against New Zealand on Monday, the midfielder told reporters on Wednesday.

The 30-year-old playmaker had not played for Palermo in Italy's Serie A since February and was among a number of key players under an injury cloud leading up to the June 11-July 11 finals in South Africa.

"I've been training hard, I've been doing a little bit of a pre-season so my fitness is getting back," Bresciano said at a luxury hotel in Melbourne.

"All that's probably missing is that match fitness which is why for me it's important for me to play these three friendly games."

Australia will also play warm-ups against Denmark on June 1 and the United States on June 5 before their first match against Group D rivals Germany on June 13. Serbia and Ghana have also been drawn to play Australia.

Coach Pim Verbeek named Bresciano, one of the Socceroos' most dangerous midfielders and a proven goal-scorer on the international stage, in an extended 30-man squad for South Africa. The squad will be trimmed to 23 on June 1.

A member of Australia's 2006 World Cup team in Germany, Bresciano said he had an additional incentive to perform well in South Africa after revealing that he was leaving Palermo to seek another deal in Europe.

After spending more than a decade of his playing career in Italy, Bresciano came close to signing a big-money deal with Saudi Arabia's Al-Nassr to rejoin former Palermo coach Walter Zenga but opted against the move.

"It was very interesting, but I just sat back and realised it's not my time yet," said the player who also had spells at Empoli and Parma.

"I still think I can play in Europe. I still want to enjoy my football... The place to be is in Europe to play."

"Personally, I would prefer to have (a deal) before the World Cup, but I guess it's a massive (shopping) window, so anything can happen, you know, have a decent World Cup and it could be positive."

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