The injury to Wellington Phoenix midfielder Leo Bertos is less serious than first feared.
Bertos was taken off on a stretcher in the 76th minute of the Phoenix’s 3-1 victory against Melbourne Heart after going down in a tackle by David Williams.
But early indications are that the New Zealand international has suffered a rolled ankle, rather than breaking any bones, and he will be assessed further in the next couple of days.
“The doctor tells me he’ll be okay,” said a relieved Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert.
“So let’s hope that tomorrow he is a little better, perhaps just a little bit of bruising.”
The injury has come at an unfortunate time for Bertos, who was back to his best against the Heart after a couple of low-key performances that resulted in him relegated to the bench for the away wins against Gold Coast United and Newcastle Jets.
Bertos provided the pinpoint cross to set up Chris Greenacre’s goal in the 54th minute after breaking clear of the Melbourne defence.
“I said to him at half-time ‘is there any chance you can take the fullback on?” joked Herbert.
“It’s great to see. He can be such an influential player for the team. He’s got a ton of pace and quality delivery into the box. We just needed that a bit more to put them on the back foot and he certainly provided it.”
The victory, played in front of a noisy season-high 13,601-strong crowd at Westpac Stadium, lifted the Phoenix above Brisbane Roar and into second spot on the ladder – a place they have never occupied in five seasons in the competition.
“It’s nice. We’ve never been there before and especially this late in the season to be where we are,” said captain Andrew Durante.
“But we deserve to be there. We’ve worked so hard. We’ve got two away wins in the last couple of games and to come back and make it three in a row is outstanding.
“It’s a great bunch of players. We deserve to be there. We’ve worked harder than any other team to be where we are.
“We’ve had injuries at the beginning of the season. We’ve had suspensions and no one gave us a chance. But I guess that’s what this club is all about. Proving people wrong and it’s just another season where we are doing that again.”
But having reached such lofty heights the Phoenix will have to continue their improved form on the road if they are to hold of the challenge from the Roar, Heart, Perth Glory and Sydney.
Their remaining fixtures include trips to Adelaide, Central Coast, Sydney, Heart and Victory. They host the Roar, Gold Coast and the Mariners.
“I don’t think we’ll get carried away at all,” said Durante. “We’re sitting in second spot but there is no real talk about complacency.
“We would love to finish in the top two and have a crack at the Grand Final spot straight away. But we’ve got a tough road ahead.”
“We’ve got a lot of away games now that are against good opponents. We’ll take it game by game, as I always tend to say. But it really holds value because that’s exactly what we’ve got to do.”