The Wellington Phoenix unfortunate run of injuries this season continues with key midfielder Albert Riera ruled out of Sunday’s clash with Newcastle Jets at Hunter Stadium with a groin injury.
The Wellington Phoenix unfortunate run of injuries this season continues with key midfielder Albert Riera ruled out of Sunday-s clash with Newcastle Jets at Hunter Stadium with a groin injury.
Already without long-term injury victims Paul Ifill and Louis Fenton, the Phoenix have lost the services of Riera, who has been a revelation since joining from Auckland City, but won-t know for how long till he has a scan on Monday.
"Deep groin muscles aren't good to deal with so it could be a little while before he's back . . . it doesn't look good,” coach Ernie Merrick said.
“Albert has been outstanding. It is sad because he's been playing very well and turned out to be one of the best midfielders in the league."
Along with the injury list, which also includes Leo Bertos, Kenny Cunningham and Michael Boxall are suspended for the match.
In typical upbeat fashion, Merrick said that losing players to injury and suspension is part of the game and that their absence presents opportunities for others to prove their worth.
‘We have a squad of players and when people are missing it gives others a chance to show what they are capable of,” Merrick said.
One of those likely to get the opportunity to do just that is young fullback Josh Brindell-South who is in line to replace Boxall at right back.
Brindell-South has been training well and Merrick will have no worries about putting him into the starting line-up.
Another youngster likely to get a start is 17-year-old midfielder Matthew Ridenton who has looked at home when coming off the bench, while Jason Hicks who has filled several roles this season is also in line for a start with in-form Vince Lia taking over Riera-s influential role.
"It's a leadership role," Merrick said.
"Vince Lia and Carlos Hernandez have got to step up because we've lost Kenny who's an experienced international player as well. So it's leadership in the midfield and under pressure you soon discover who your leaders are and who are not."
The game kicks off at 7pm New Zealand time.