The worst was feared when Terry Antonis went down injured on the maligned SCG surface during Saturday’s Big Blue, but fortunately the player’s issue is not nearly as bad as first thought.
The football community held its collective breath when Antonis tripped on the perimeter of the SCG’s cricket pitch late in the game, which Melbourne Victory ultimately lost against rivals Sydney FC 2-1.
Victory officials cleared Antonis of serious injury on Monday night, and on Tuesday, coach Kevin Muscat provided further good news on the situation.
The central-midfielder could be back in training in “the next day or two”, but Muscat did not shed light on whether he would be fit enough – which would seem miraculous – to face Central Coast Mariners on Sunday.
“It’s good news, actually, very good news in relation to the extent of the injury, he’s been cleared of anything sinister or long-term so structurally he’s fine and sound,” Muscat said.
“It’s a matter of now starting his rehab and now that he has settled down, we’re optimistic he’ll start training in the next day or two.”
Antonis did not travel with his Victory teammates to China for their third Asian Champions League Group F matchup with Guangzhou Evergrande, instead returning to Melbourne for assessment immediately after the Big Blue.
The nature of the situation would suggest that even if Antonis’ recovery progresses well, the third-placed club is likely to take a cautious approach to a valuable asset.
Having lost their opening two games in Asia against Daegu FC and Sanfrecce Hiroshima, Victory’s task of progressing out of the group is already an uphill battle, and will be made virtually impossible if they lose against Evergrande.
The cashed-up club boasts the likes of Brazilians Paulinho and Anderson Talisca in its ranks.
Muscat hinted at squad rotation in the lead-in to the A-League finals, but did not go into just how widespread that would be.
“It depends how the players present, really, it’s an ongoing monitoring of individuals,” he added.
“Based on how they present, it affects selections we make.
“We’ve got the opportunity to freshen up one or two bodies in this game, and we’re not looking too further forward than this game here.”