Soccer: Hernandez to miss at least one game for Phoenix

Wellington Phoenix midfielder Carlos Hernandez will be out for at least a week due to a 2.5cm tear in his quadriceps and will miss Friday's game against the Glory in Perth. Photo / Getty Images.
Wellington Phoenix midfielder Carlos Hernandez will be out for at least a week due to a 2.5cm tear in his quadriceps and will miss Friday's game against the Glory in Perth. Photo / Getty Images.

Wellington Phoenix midfielder Carlos Hernandez will be out for at least a week due to a 2.5cm tear in his quadriceps and will miss Friday's game against the Glory in Perth.

The Phoenix began their lengthy road trip to Western Australia today and coach Ernie Merrick was left to contemplate his midfield options for the outing against Perth given Albert Riera will be a game-day decision as he will take a late fitness test on his tight groin.

Hernandez's withdrawal and Manny Muscat's one-game suspension due to picking up his fifth yellow card of the season against Western Sydney last weekend has seen 17-year-old Matthew Ridenton included in the travelling group.

If Riera can't make the grade on Friday, the teenager will likely come on to the bench and Merrick predicted the New Zealand under-17 international, who recently played at the youth World Cup in the United Arab Emirates where the Young All Whites lost all three pool games, could have an impact.

"Off the bench he'd do really well,'' Merrick said of Ridenton, who only recently rejoined the squad after sitting his school exams.

The biggest loss is clearly Hernandez though, who, while he hasn't shown his best for Wellington this season, directs traffic in the middle of the park for the Phoenix.

The Costa Rican's withdrawal means there will be a reshuffle of personnel in the midfield, which could see striker Stein Huysegems drop in behind a front two of Kenny Cunningham and the returning Jeremy Brockie, who has recovered from a hamstring complaint, while Paul Ifill may be given the chance to start.

Vince Lia and Jason Hicks seem destined to retain their places in the midfield for Friday's game.

"I feel that we have the squad to win this game because we've got good depth now,'' Merrick said.

Muscat, who played at left back during the 0-0 draw with Western Sydney last Sunday, will be replaced by Reece Caira who started the first six games of the season on the left-side of defence before he was rested last weekend.

Wellington are still searching for their first win of the season and have four draws and three losses to show for their efforts so far.

Perth, who occupy seventh on the A-League ladder while the Phoenix are in ninth, have experienced some injury problems in the past few weeks with the latest being striker Shane Smeltz, who could be sidelined for up to a month with an ankle issue.

- APNZ

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