Sydney FC’s injury crisis could be about to worsen with coach Graham Arnold admitting veteran defender Sasa Ognenovski is no certainty to return this season.
Ognenovski has missed the last five Hyundai A-League games – including Sunday’s 2-0 home loss to Wellington Phoenix – with a troublesome hip problem.
The Sky Blues have endured a horror injury run over the last month, losing Corey Gameiro, Ali Abbas and Nick Carle to season-ending knee injuries and can ill-afford another long-term absentee.
Asked about Ognenovski’s injury after the match, Arnold said: “It’s very serious.
“Put it his way, he’s had it for six, seven weeks and it’s got no better.
“He’s had injections, MRI’s, everything you can possibly have and it’s still not getting better. Hopefully his season is not over.”
At 35, a serious injury that requires surgery would all but end Ognenovski’s career.
The Sky Blues certainly missed his experience against Phoenix, made to pay for some wasteful finishing and a couple of defensive lapses in the second half to make it just one win from their last seven matches.
“That dressing room has been through some tough times over the last few weeks,” Arnold said.
“When they see their mate cop bad injuries, they feel for their mates that cop the bad injuries and that can take its toll.
“We have to be stronger than that. The main disappointment for me was after we conceded the first goal we were very poor.
“Since I’ve been at the club we’ve gone behind at other stages and come back and fought hard to get back in the games. There was still 18 minutes to go and it was like they had no belief.”
Sydney were also without skipper Alex Brosque against Phoenix with Arnold admitting it’s been hard to work on things with the same 12 or 13 players.
But he will have no hesitation putting in some fresh, young faces if performances and results don’t improve, starting with the visit of Adelaide United on Boxing Day.
“I’ve thrown in kids all the time. (Alex) Gersbach is 17 years of age, (Aaron) Calver on the bench…the average age of our bench was 17,” Arnold said.
“I like giving kids a go. They are energetic, they make mistakes but if these kids here are good enough they will get a go.
“…This is a hiccup. I’m a fighter and I’ve been working harder than ever. The boys have to work harder and they have to fight harder and if there’s some that don’t they will have to move on.”