Pantelis to miss season


Wellington Phoenix have been struck a blow on the eve of the Hyundai A-League season, with Lucas Pantelis set to miss the entire 2011/12 campaign with a knee injury.

It was only thought that Pantelis would miss a month of his debut season with the Phoenix after going down with the knee problem in his side’s friendly encounter against the Central Coast Mariners on September 25.

But an MRI scan on his injured left knee – which the left-sided midfielder has seriously injured in the past – has revealed an ACL rupture, along with tears to the cartilage and meniscus.

Phoenix physio Wayne Roberts confirmed on Tuesday that the injury would rule Pantelis out for the season.

“We are waiting for a date to be set for surgery and expect that to happen in the next two weeks,” Roberts said.

Pantelis had only joined the Phoenix in May after leaving A-League rivals Adelaide United, where he had been a foundation player and served as captain.

His injury comes as another blow for the Phoenix, who have also lost energetic Australian forward Mirjan Pavlovic with a broken arm and found recruiting hard during the uncertainty surrounding former owner Terry Serepisos’ financial difficulties.

“It is a big blow,” Pantelis said. “Not only to me personally but, being new to the club, you somehow feel you are letting your teammates down.”

“The hardest thing with a long-term injury is accepting what has happened, and I admit I still haven’t done that.”

“I think my mindset will change once I’ve had the operation because I will have something to aim at.”

“At the moment I’m still gutted, but once I can rehabilitate I will be aiming to come back better and stronger next season.”

Phoenix manager Ricki Herbert has strengthened his squad depth in the past week through the signings of midfielder Nick Ward and former Perth Glory defender Brent Griffiths, but may be forced back into the transfer market due the absence of Pantelis.