The Wellington Phoenix have confirmed today that both forward Gary Hooper and defender Tim Payne have been ruled out of the Hyundai A-League Finals due to injury.
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Hooper had suffered a hamstring injury against Brisbane Roar while scoring a goal on the 82 minute mark – that same goal would be the equaliser in the Phoenix’s 1-all draw.
Payne had also suffered a recent hamstring injury during practice, which had prevented him from being able to play in any matches during the re-started season.
With it becoming apparent in the last 24 hours that neither player would be able to recover in time for the Final Series, both will now exit the Wellington Phoenix isolation bubble and return to their respective homes; Hooper will return to England to reunite with his family while Payne will travel back to New Zealand.
Wellington Phoenix Head Coach Ufuk Talay says that while the team will miss the talents of their departing teammates, the club’s focus on Finals football remains unchanged.
“Both Hooper and Payne have been an important part of our team this season and they’ve both been instrumental in getting us into the top six and the Elimination Finals.
“They’re both great players, great teammates and we wish them all the very best with their respective recoveries.
“For us as a club, our focus remains on preparing for the Finals – I like our chances with the squad we have in place and the commitment they’ve shown to playing the game the right way.”
The Phoenix will now wait to find out their Elimination Finals opponent, scheduled to be played on either 22 or 23 August.