Jedinak on Asian Cup, EPL and growing back his beard!

Swiftly becoming a household name at home following his rise to the captaincy of his nation, the Crystal Palace skipper's claim to fame outside Australia is his prodigious appetite for a challenge in the unforgiving Premier League.

Going into the final round of last season, the holding midfielder had completed more tackles than any other player in England's famously combative top flight.

He's been up there again in 2014-15, adding goals to his game to be considered - at least by some statistical measures - among Europe's best players.

Barcelona's midfield maestro Xavi Hernandez has previously admitted he will finish games in a foul mood if doesn't see enough of the ball.

Fortunately Jedinak doesn't suffer from a similar affliction when it comes to his own speciality. 

On the eve of Friday night's Asian Cup opener against Kuwait in Melbourne, the former Central Coast Mariners man opened up on he how keeps managing to top the stats columns. 

"It's a by-product of what I do," he said.

"I've never once even thought about how many tackles I'll make.

“It's just part of the game, whatever happens in the game. Whatever situation I find myself in, that's how I deal with it.

“Sometimes if it's not a tackle, it's an interception. Those are even better.

"It's something in that position you need to be aware of. I get surprised myself at some of the numbers. But if I'm required to do it, I'm not going to shirk out of a challenge." 

Jedinak's impressive numbers have seen him touted as a potential solution to the defensive woes of some of the Premier League's big guns, at least in Australian football circles, with Arsenal in particular chronically short of bite in front of their back four.

But the humble 30-year-old insisted he isn't expecting any interest to materialise, despite the January transfer window prompting the usual frenzied speculation.  

"At the moment, my focus ... is with Palace," he said.

"There's nothing else. Whatever other talk, speculation, that's up to other people. I'm enjoying my time there, I'm enjoying everything I do.

“I'm glad people are taking notice, it's great. Whatever happens after that remains to be seen but at this stage, I'm enjoying my football and have done for a long time there."

Jedinak has left his team in a state of flux, with former player Alan Pardew lured from Newcastle United to replace the sacked Neil Warnock as manager.

But despite there being a new man at the helm in his absence, the club captain is adamant he has the Eagles' full backing during his time away.

"They understand the situation, they know that for me to be over here, I need to put 100 percent into here," he said.

"My sole focus has to be over here."

The Asian Cup and perhaps to a greater extent the African Cup of Nations can be viewed as an inconvenience by British clubs, with players departing for weeks at a time during a congested period of the season.

Having become well acquainted with the pressure-cooker environment of football in the UK, Jedinak knows the sudden arrival of international tournaments in January will often be met with hostility, prompting him to suggest an amendment to the FIFA and AFC calendar. 

"You're going to get that reaction, it's natural," he said.

"And I don't blame people. I do not blame people for having that reaction. That's their livelihood, that's their passion, that's their club. There's not a lot you can do. 

"The only other thing I can suggest is you change the tournament time. Which for whatever reason hasn't happened now and I can accept that. So that's an option to keep people (happy)."

On a lighter note, something else that may keep people happy is news on the Socceroo skipper's facial hair.

After cultivating but then suddenly removing one of the best beards in the Premier League, a brief and unpopular flirtation with the razor will apparently not be repeated any time soon. 

"The beard is on its way back," he confirmed.

"I shaved it off and I felt a bit naked."

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