The old adage that it never rains but it pours is certainly true for the Wellington Phoenix as they prepare for tomorrow's A-League clash with Melbourne Heart at AAMI Park.
Already with seven players away on international duty, the Phoenix were robbed of Cameron Lindsay through illness within hours of arriving in Melbourne. His absence will see Vince Lia switch to right back and should mean a debut for youngster Tom Biss in midfield.
Lindsay was taken to hospital this morning after vomiting throughout the night and the youngster, who was set to make his A-League debut, was bitterly disappointed when a doctor ruled out any chance of him playing tomorrow.
His omission meant Jimmy Downey, who has no pre-season game time under his belt after an injury-hit last season, was called across the Tasman as a reinforcement.
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Young goalkeeper Scott Basalaj has also missed out on making his debut through illness, with Jacob Spoonley, on loan for the week from Auckland City, starting.
Lia, another who has had an injury interrupted pre-season, was ready to return to action.
"I've not had a lot of football in the last few months, but I've watched a lot," he said. "It is going to be a tough game with so many of our regular starters not here, but it is also an opportunity for the young players to shine.
"Louis (Fenton) showed what was possible last week and this is a chance for others to do the same. There is no pressure on the young guys. They should just go out and enjoy it.
Likely Phoenix team: Jacob Spoonley, Vince Lia, Michael Boxall, Andrew Durante (c), Luke Rowe, Louis Fenton, Manny Muscat, Alex Smith, Tom Biss, Paul Ifill, Stein Huysegems. Substitutes: Scott Basalaj, Jimmy Downey, Tyler Boyd. Ricardo Clarke.