Wellington Phoenix dealt major blow after ‘heart-breaking’ injury news

Wellington Phoenix welcome Western United to Sky Stadium in the Liberty A-League on Sunday.

Wellington Phoenix’s worst fears have been realised after Grace Wisnewski suffered a season-ending anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury.

There were concerns over Wisnewski, who was forced from the field inside the opening 20 seconds of Saturday’s 2-1 win over Brisbane Roar in round three of the Liberty A-League and now scans have confirmed the worst.

A ruptured ACL means the 21-year-old midfielder will miss the remainder of the 2023-24 campaign.

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“It’s heartbreaking for her,” Phoenix head coach Paul Temple said. “It’s just something you never want to see for any player especially a young player at the start of a season.

“It’s the worst thing for players to get ACL injuries because it pretty much means the season is a write off now.

“Just really gutted for her and disappointed that we won’t be able to see her again for the rest of the season.”

Temple added: “I guess fortunately we’ve had Flea (Annalie Longo) and Alex Rufer who’ve been through that and Olivia Ingham who’s coming out the other end of it.

“So there are a few people at the Phoenix that will know exactly what she’s going through so she’ll get all the suport she needs with us.

“NZCIS is a great place to do the rehab because of the access to the facilities, the medical staff and also the people around her who have been through it quite recently.”

It is a blow for the Phoenix, who have made an historic start to the Liberty A-League season.

Wellington have won back-to-back games for the first time in their history to sit third in the standings, just three points behind Perth Glory.

The Phoenix host last season’s Grand Finalists Western United at Sky Stadium on Sunday.

“We need to look into what more we can do to support female players because obviously the stats show female athletes are more likely to do ACLs,” Temple said.

“We just can’t keep going at this rate so we’ve got to look at everything from quality of the pitches to the pre-season programmes to the size of the squads and the benches – all these things that can have an impact on the players.

“We’ve really got to take this seriously around what we’re asking these players to do and the restrictions on the length of pre-season is the obvious place to start looking.

“Every team’s being asked to get ready in five weeks with an international window in the middle of it. It’s just not enough time to prepare the players for the season, for a longer season now as well.

“I’m not a medical expert and it can’t be all down to one specific thing, but logic tells me as we ask the athletes to do more we need to support them more.”