Western Sydney Wanderers coach Tony Popovic has confirmed star mid-fielder Shinji Ono will most likely miss this Sunday’s clash against the Wellington Phoenix after injuring his groin during last Friday night’s loss to Brisbane.
If Ono does miss the trip to New Zealand as is expected, it’ll be the first time the Wanderers will be without the Japanese superstar all season, dealing the side a huge blow as they try and bounce back after last week’s 3-1 thrashing to the Roar.
“We’re not expecting him to play,” Popovic told the media before Monday’s training session.
“It’s not a serious injury, which is great. At best he’s 50/50 for that match but at the moment we don’t expect him to be out there.
“Shinji’s got a slight groin strain. We’re happy it’s not a bad one but he would have to have a great recovery by Thursday or Friday to have any chance.”
Wanderers defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley admitted while losing the 34-year-old would be a huge blow, it will allow another deserved player to come in and show what he’s got.
“Shinji’s vital, he’s a very important part of what we do but now there’s an opportunity for someone else to step up and stake a claim,” he said.
This will be the second meeting between the Wanderers and the still winless Phoenix already this season. In Round 2, the Wanderers surprisingly shared the points with the Kiwis following a dramatic 1-1 result at Pirtek Stadium.
“We learnt from that game and we realised that we can’t take anyone easy,” Topor-Stanley said.
“Wellington are a good side and a capable side. They have match winners in Carlos Hernandez who is a very dangerous player.”
Popovic agreed with his centre-back saying the Phoenix weren’t far off from recording their first victory.
“They’re playing good football in every single match,” he said.