Newcastle United defender Craig Moore has been suspended from the Australian squad for missing scheduled training and public appearances leading into Saturday's soccer friendly against Paraguay.
With regular captain Mark Viduka unavailable, Moore had been a likely candidate to lead Australia against Paraguay in Brisbane and next week in an Asian Cup qualifier against Bahrain at Sydney.
But he missed a flight from Sydney to Brisbane on Wednesday, missing training and a number of other commitments as a result.
Football Federation Australia released a statement Thursday saying the 30-year-old Moore, a former Socceroos captain, had been suspended for the weekend match.
As a result, Moore asked for permission to return immediately to English Premier League club Newcastle.
Socceroos coach Graham Arnold, who was Guus Hiddink's assistant at the World Cup in Germany, confirmed Moore had been punished for missing training without prior permission or a good excuse.
"This is particularly unfortunate for Craig who has served the Socceroos with such distinction, and who was very much looking forward to playing with the team in his home town in Brisbane," Arnold said. "However, he has let the team down on this occasion. I have let him know that, and he accepts the decision made. It will not be the end of his international career."
Moore issued a statement later apologizing to his teammates and the public.
"I am still deeply passionate about the national team and proud of what we achieved during the World Cup (and) want to continue to be part of it," he said.
"However, in the circumstances, and in the best interests of the team, I have asked to be released from the squad for the Bahrain match, and will return today to Newcastle to prepare for our match against Bolton on the weekend."
Moore played an important part in the Australian squad that reached the second round at the World Cup before losing on a last-second penalty to eventual champion Italy.