‘Heartbreaking’ reason A-Leagues captain will miss the entire season

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Wellington Phoenix captain and goalkeeper Lily Alfeld will miss the entire 2023-24 Liberty A-League season as she requires surgery on her back.

Alfeld sat out the 2022-23 campaign because of off-season knee surgery and a back injury, which has not improved.

The 28-year-old, who was the club’s first A-League Women signing, is now facing an extended stint on the sidelines in a major blow for the Phoenix.

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“It’s quite heart-breaking,” Alfeld said. “Going through last season with injuries this was the season I was looking forward to and had my sights set on.

“Unfortunately it hasn’t worked out that way, but at the same time it gives me a lot of time to get myself right, do the rehab thoroughly and properly, and there’s no time pressure.”

Alfeld, who captained the club over the past two seasons, added: “It’s been incredibly frustrating as we were hoping the injury would heal with time.

“I’ve given it six to seven months, but I haven’t had the progress I’d hoped.

“The next step is surgery and hopefully that’ll mean I’ll be able to return to football next year.

“It’s looking really positive. My surgeon has operated on a lot of athletes who’ve been able to make a full recovery.”

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Wellington head coach Paul Temple said: “We’re talking to Lily about a role at the club and hopefully we’ll still have her around the team environment.

“A team culture is built around its people and she’s an amazing person.

“We’d love to find a way in which Lily can still have a home here at the Phoenix.

“The best scenario is that we have her at NZCIS, and she can continue to do her rehab here and continue to have a positive influence on the group.”