Daniel Richardson is a Wellington-based sports journalist for NZME. News Service.

Soccer: Huysegems under injury cloud

Stein Huysegems. Photo / Getty Images
Stein Huysegems. Photo / Getty Images

Wellington Phoenix striker Stein Huysegems is expected to play against Newcastle on Sunday, despite the former Belgian international sitting out most of training today with a swollen ankle.

Huysegems, who has scored three goals in six starts for the Phoenix this season, cut a dejected figure as he sat and watched the side train at Newtown Park today.

The Phoenix have lost three consecutive games culminating in their disappointing 1-0 defeat to the Central Coast Mariners in Wellington last Sunday and Ricki Herbert's side will need Huysegems when they meet the over-achieving Jets in Newcastle.

"I think it's just a bit of a knock, so I'm sure he will pull through,'' assistant coach Chris Greenacre said of Huysegems.

"We've all been there and had those little sort of ones on the ankles so I'm sure he'll be fine for the weekend.''

Huysegems was less sure. He picked up the ailment in the side's 3-2 loss to Melbourne two weeks ago and, while he played on, the ankle swelled up after the game.

It flared up again after Sunday's outing against Central Coast.

Youngster Tyler Boyd was one option to replace him if he didn't recover and Ricardo Clarke or Benjamin Totori could also come into the frame.

"It's not comfortable, but hopefully [I can play],'' Huysegems said. "I can't say how many per cent. I know that I can play, so day-to-day I have to see how it's going on. But today I ran a little bit, tomorrow a little bit more,'' Huysegems said.

A niggling injury to their premier striker is the last thing they need. Herbert and six All Whites have been absent all week and will link with the side in Australia after their 1-1 draw with China in Shanghai overnight (NZT).

Fatigue could be a factor and they will need to assess things quickly when they assemble in Newcastle.

Phoenix skipper Andrew Durante admitted the side were devastated following the loss to the Mariners, when they failed to create much on attack and generally looked low on inspiration.

"Straight after the game it was a pretty quiet changing room, as you would imagine,'' Durante said. "I probably haven't seen it that quiet for a very long time. So everyone's hurting.

"The attitude at training's been really good. Everyone seems to have a smile on their face and a positive attitude and everyone's working hard and the only way we are going to get out of it is working hard on the pitch.''

The Phoenix will likely carry 16 players in their travelling squad for this weekend's game as they are going to stay in Australia after the match to prepare to meet the Perth Glory in Western Australia on November 24.

After six rounds of the A-League, the Jets are one of the competition's front-runners and occupy third on the ladder. The Phoenix are ninth.

Former England international Emile Heskey has been an inspired signing for the Jets and the frontman has bagged five goals in six games this year.


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