Australia manager Graham Arnold has hit back at criticism he did not play midfielder Tom Rogic in Sunday’s Asian Cup tune-up against Oman.
Rogic, one of his national team's most important players, was not included in the squad to face Pim Verbeek's side in the friendly in Dubai – the Asian champions eased to a 5-0 victory - a decision criticised by former Australia goalkeeper and current television pundit Mark Bosnich.
Rogic missed Saturday’s Old Firm Scottish Premiership derby against Rangers because he was joining up with his national team.
On Friday, he posted a message on social media saying he was “very disappointed” to miss the match and that he “did everything in my power” to stay in Glasgow for the game.
Rangers went on to win 1-0 to move level on points with Celtic at the top of the table.
Taking to Twitter once the Australia team was announced on Sunday, Bosnich said: “So Graham Arnold doesn’t let Tom Rogic play in Old Firm Derby yesterday and then does not use him in friendly game vs Oman either ... very poor.”
However, Arnold said after the Oman victory that Rogic had a small knee issue that flared up on the flight to Dubai, and that he had rested the attacking midfielder at Celtic’s request.
“We received an email from Celtic asking us not to play him because he had a knee issue, so he didn’t play,” Arnold said. “So Mark Bosnich has said I left him out on purpose and that I’m a poor man. I didn’t do it.
“He’s here because he wants to be here. But the most important thing is the health of the kid. Celtic asked us not to play him. And we have emails to prove it.”
Arnold confirmed Rogic would “100 per cent” be fit for Australia’s Asian Cup opener against Jordan in Al Ain on Sunday.
The Socceroos, who lifted the title on home soil almost four years ago, have been drawn in Group B alongside Jordan, Syria and Palestine.
Asked how Rogic was mentally given the debate surrounding the timing of his call-up, Arnold said: “Great, fantastic. I would like to get my phone out and show you, but I won't.
"It was always very clear. When you receive nice text messages from other coaches, thanking me for letting the players stay on Boxing Day and performing well: [goalkeeper] Matty Ryan at Brighton, [midfielder] Jackson Irvine scoring two goals at Hull [City] when they shouldn’t have been there on Boxing Day. As I said, it was always very clear”
On whether he was frustrated by the criticism, Arnold said: “No, it’s all great. Tommy’s great, we’re fine, we move on.
"I just want you guys to know that situation - that I pulled him here and then just don’t play him - that’s not the situation. Again, we received an email from Celtic. Their request was we don’t play him.”