Besart Berisha and Matthieu Delpierre are among a raft of players Melbourne Victory are likely to be without for Monday’s clash with Wellington Phoenix following Wednesday’s horror 4-2 FFA Cup loss to Perth Glory.
Victory coach Kevin Muscat confirmed after the game that Berisha and Delpierre had suffered groin and hamstring injuries, forcing both to be replaced.
Muscat said the pair are likely to miss the Wellington game, with Archie Thompson (illness) in doubt, while Adrian Leijer and Daniel Georgievski were both sent off and will be subsequently suspended.
Berisha was substituted shortly before half-time, after appearing to feel a twinge and immediately signalling to the bench he needed to be replaced.
The Albanian’s body language suggested it was a serious injury, although Muscat couldn’t confirm the extent of either his or Delpierre’s.
The Frenchman injured his right hamstring and was substituted in the 88th minute.
Victory were also without Thompson who wasn’t part of the matchday squad despite travelling, due to illness, with Muscat confirming they “decided to keep him away from the squad”.
“I can’t recall a night like that with injuries and red cards, not too much went our way tonight,” Muscat said after the game.
“It’s disappointing, but we have to pick ourselves up.”
On Berisha and Delpierre’s injuries, Muscat said: “The extent of the injuries I don’t know, but if it was enough for them to come off, they’d be in serious doubt for Monday.
“We’re going to have to assess them when we get back to Melbourne to know for definite.”
Despite the potential loss of five key players, Muscat was confident his squad could cover their absences.
Muscat pointed to the examples of young full-back Dylan Murnane, who returned after Young Socceroos duty, and Tunisian Fahid Ben Khalfallah, who opened the scoring, as a sign of the club’s depth.
“We’ll have enough bodies to put out a strong team at home to win a game of football,” Muscat said.
Meanwhile, Muscat refused to lambast referee Alan Milliner for his performance in the extra-time defeat, despite issuing two red cards and awarding a controversial first-half penalty against Victory.
Muscat insisted he had “no issues” with the referee’s performance, although he appeared to be boiling under the surface.
Speaking about Georgievski’s send-off, he said: “I don’t know whether he got the ball.
“(The referee) seemed like he was in a close enough position to make the right decision, but time will tell when I have another look at it.”