Alex Rufer has been named in an extended Wellington Phoenix squad for the first time this season.
The men’s captain is available to be selected for the Phoenix’s round seven Isuzu UTE A-League match against Western Sydney Wanderers in Wollongong on Saturday night.
Rufer has been side-lined since March when he ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
He had surgery in April and was told he was facing nine to 12 months of rehabilitation.
Rufer is ahead of schedule. He returned to competitive football late last month, playing the first half an hour of the reserves’ final National League Championship match against Birkenhead United.
“Mentally I was prepared,” Rufer told media on Wednesday. “I didn’t put any pressure on myself to return by this date or that date.
“And I’ve been through a long injury process before, and it was similar. They said it was going to be a year and I came back after eight or nine months.
“I’m knocking on the door now. I played some minutes for the reserve team and I’m feeling really good. I feel strong and now it’s about waiting for my turn.
“I’m training every day and I’m fit, you know I can keep up with the boys, but game fitness is a lot different and you only can replicate that by playing so the more minutes the better.”
Young defender Finn Surman is the only first-team squad member unavailable for the men’s first match after the FIFA World Cup break. He is side-lined with a shoulder injury.
Wellington Phoenix men’s squad: 4. Scott WOOTTON, 5. Steven UGARKOVIC, 6. Tim PAYNE, 7. Kosta BARBAROUSES, 8. Ben OLD, 9. Oskar ZAWADA, 10. David BALL, 11. Bozhidar KRAEV, 12. Lucas MAURAGIS, 13. Nicholas PENNINGTON, 14. Alex RUFER, 17. Callan ELLIOT, 18. Ben WAINE, 19. Sam SUTTON, 20. Oli SAIL (gk), 21. Joshua LAWS, 23. Clayton LEWIS, 24. Oskar VAN HATTUM, 31. Yan SASSE, 40. Alex PAULSEN (gk).
IN: 14. Alex RUFER (returning from injury).
Unavailable: 3. Finn SURMAN (injured).
Football Ferns squad members Grace Wisnewski and Emma Rolston have been named in the extended Wellington Phoenix women’s squad for their fourth round Liberty A-League match against Canberra United in Canberra, earlier on Saturday.
Neither have featured in the opening three rounds due to calf and back injuries respectively.
Wisnewski was named in the extended squad last week, but suffered a slight setback at training on Friday and didn’t travel to Melbourne to play the Victory.
Rolston’s back injury flared up while representing the Ferns last month and she is still waiting to make her debut for the Nix.
Women’s skipper Lily Alfeld and vice-captain Kate Taylor remain unavailable with knee and ankle injuries respectively.
Wellington Phoenix women’s squad: 2. Saskia VOSPER, 4. Mackenzie BARRY, 5. Marisa VAN DER MEER, 6. Isabel GOMEZ, 7. Chloe KNOTT, 8. Grace WISNEWSKI, 9. Ava PRITCHARD, 10. Alyssa WHINHAM, 11. Betsy HASSETT, 12. Brianna EDWARDS (gk), 13. Paige SATCHELL, 14. Michaela ROBERTSON, 15. Zoe MCMEEKEN, 16. Emma ROLSTON, 17. Claudia CICCO, 18. Te Reremoana WALKER, 19. Charlotte LANCASTER, 20. Milly CLEGG, 21. Michaela FOSTER, 22. Georgia CANDY (gk).
IN: 8. Grace WISNEWSKI (returning from injury), 16. Emma ROLSTON (returning from injury).
Unavailable: 1. Lily ALFELD (gk) (injured), 3. Kate TAYLOR (injured).