March 19, 2015 14:41:27 UK
It’s one out and two in for Wellington Phoenix when they defend top spot in the A-League against Brisbane Roar on Sunday.
Left-back Manny Muscat has been ruled out of the Suncorp Stadium clash after damaging the AC joint in his shoulder in last weekend’s 2-1 win against Perth Glory.
Manny’s tough, he played on through the injury.
But midfielder Alex Rodriguez and striker Nathan Burns have both been given the green light to take on the defending champions.
Wellington are 3.30 to beat Brisbane, who are 2.10 with the draw 12/5.
Muscat was able to play on until the 69th minute at nib Stadium before being replaced.
Coach Ernie Merrick said: “It’s not a bad injury but I can’t see him being right for this week; I’d say it’s only a one-week type injury.
“If he was a rugby player, of course he’d be back in this week. Manny’s tough, he played on through the injury. It’s a very painful injury but he’ll only be out for a week.”
Burns missed the win against Perth, which saw Wellington displace Kenny Lowe’s men in top spot, with a hip problem. That has cleared up, along with Rodriguez’s hamstring injury, with both players training well on Wednesday.
Rodriguez may not return to the starting side, as veteran Vince Lia played well in his absence in Perth on what was his 150th appearance for the Phoenix.
Burns is set to take over from Joel Griffiths up front, while Muscat’s left-back spot is likely to go to regular right-back Louis Fenton.
The Phoenix, who are 5.00 to win the Grand Final, have won their last three games against fellow premiership contenders and are unbeaten in their last five outings.
Only a win is likely to keep them in top spot, as the four sides immediately below them are all within three points of them.
Wellington need to take advantage of having almost all their players to choose from against the Roar, as they will be severely weakened for the home game against Sydney FC next week.
Burns will be on Socceroos duty in Europe while there are six Phoenix players in Anthony Hudson’s squad to take on South Korea – Michael Boxall, Tom Doyle, Louis Fenton, Michael McGlinchey, Tyler Boyd and Joel Stevens.
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