Canberra United co-captain Ash Sykes has failed to pass fit and won’t travel with the team for a crucial away trip against rivals Melbourne City on Sunday.
Sykes left the field after spraining her ankle in a strong contest in the 67th-minute last week and after not training all week she is not expected to return until the new year.
The United veteran has featured in every game this season but the W-League reigning golden boot winner has scored just one goal in five appearances.
Canberra coach Heather Garriock admitted Sykes left a hole in their forward line but said she wouldn’t be rushing the the 25-year-old back.
“We always do what’s best for the player and if the medical staff are confident she’ll get through the game next week then she’ll definitely play but if they’re not than I’m not going to risk her,” Garriock said.
“It’s a short season and long-term injury is not what we want at this stage, but her energy and leadership up top will certainly be a massive loss for us on Sunday.”
City downed Canberra in the semi-final last season and United midfielder Grace Maher said they have a point to prove on Sunday.
“Melbourne City have become one of our big rivals in the W-League in just two seasons, we’ve had five encounters and they knocked us out of the finals last year, so we’re looking for a big redemption,” Maher said.
“We know we haven’t played our best football yet but we’re still sitting comfortably in third on the table and we know if we get a result this weekend, not only will it push us into a great spot for the finals but it may keep Melbourne City out.
“We’ve swapped positions around a lot this season and haven’t had a set starting XI, but I think that’s really good because it shows the depth in our squad and that we have the ability on any given day to change the formation and still perform.”
Garriock said positions are simply “numbers and spaces on the field where players go”, before adding said fans can expect to see more changes in Melbourne.
“I’m an adaptive kind of coach and it’s whatever is best for the team and from my perspective each player has different attributes that coaches love and this week it’s going to be the same,” Garriock said.
“I’ll play players in different positions because their attributes are what I need in that that particular area.
“Sometimes I ask players for things that are very difficult from a technical and tactical sense but they rise to the challenge.”
W-LEAGUE ROUND SEVEN:
Sunday: Melbourne City v Canberra United at Aami Park, 4:30pm. Game televised on SBS and Fox Sports.