Popovic: Wanderers struggling physically

Following Sunday’s 1-0 loss to the Brisbane Roar, Western Sydney Wanderers coach Tony Popovic said his side is physically exhausted due to AFC Champions League commitments.

Popovic revealed forward Mark Bridge had joined the club’s long injury list after picking up a strain against the Roar, saying the Wanderers’ run to the ACL final had hugely affected their preparation for the A-League season.

The Wanderers manager feared Bridge, who was replaced at half-time, may be out for some time.

“We believe it’s an abdominal or groin, we’re not sure, it’s in that area," Popovic said.

“It doesn’t look good, but hopefully after scans it won’t be serious."

The 2013-14 grand finalists and Asian champions had struggled on the pitch against Brisbane, and were having difficulty coping with the strains of competing in multiple competitions, Popovic revealed.

“It was a really tough game," he said.

“The conditions were difficult, both teams trying to back up from ACL commitments, and physically we found it difficult.

“We’ve got a lot of players that are new to the club, we’ve got a lot of players now that are unfortunately long-term injuries – we’ve got five, possibly another one after tonight.

“And physically I think we’re struggling. The effort’s there, the commitment’s there but we’re just not quite at the level that we want to be."

Popovic said his side’s interrupted pre-season preparations may have contributed to Bridge’s strain, as well as a higher injury toll across the club.

“I think he’s done it tonight, but I think it’s an accumulation," he said.

“We certainly didn’t do the pre-season that we’d done in the first two years, we missed 50-odd days of training going through the ACL.

“We wouldn’t change it for anything, winning the ACL, going to Morocco, but when we came back we were certainly not at the level that we wanted to be at and hence we’ve picked up a lot more injuries than we did in the first two years.”