Wanderers battling to recover from Covid cases ahead of return to action

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After weeks of match postponements, injuries and Covid cases, Western Sydney Wanderers face their next game with limited players and in need of a new captain.

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The Wanderers haven’t played an A-League Men’s game for the past two weeks due to multiple coronavirus cases confirmed within the team.

With over 60 per cent of the team having contracted the virus, the aftermath hasn’t been as swell as coach Carl Robinson would hope.

Due to player fitness concerns, not everyone is available for this weekend’s crucial clash against Brisbane Roar.

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“It’s been disruptive. It’s not been ideal. Our last game was two weeks ago against Melbourne City.

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We’ve now had two training weeks where it’s been a little inconsistent due to the COVID cases we’ve had,” said Robinson.

“It takes its toll differently on people. Some have found it difficult to catch a breath. Trying to shift the virus has been very difficult. You don’t know until it’s you. You don’t know what it feels like, and it treats everyone differently.

“I will not risk any of the boys who think they’re ready, but I can see from their training that they’re not.”

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In a tumultuous season that has seen the Wanderers win only one of their first six games, defender and captain Rhys Williams has been one of the club’s most consistent performers.

Williams underwent successful hamstring tendon surgery earlier this week which will unfortunately sideline him for an extended period.

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“It’s a massive loss to lose Rhys, not just on the field but off the field as well,” Robinson said

“I’m gutted for the boy because I think he started the season exceptionally. He’s been a privilege to work with. When you talk about leaders and captains and good people in general, he fits the bill. From a manager point of view, he is the ideal captain.

“I know the boys are gutted but know it’s time for someone to step up. They’ll get their opportunities now.”

Robinson was approached with names such as Steven Urgarkovic, Jack Rodwell and Johnny Koutroumbis to take on captaincy, but he stated that he may want to divide the responsibility between his senior players.

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“There’s a number of people could give it to. I haven’t decided yet,” he said.

“I need someone who is going to be a good professional. I need someone who is going to be vocal, who is going to step up when things aren’t going so well on the pitch. There’s three or four players that go into the mix.”

Ahead of this weekend’s game, Robinson is hopeful that his team can pull it together despite the constant interruptions.

“What you need to do is concentrate on yourself, focus on what you can control and when you get into playing games you need to try and pick up points,” Robinson said.

“We’ve got a tough game away in Brisbane who are in a similar position to ourselves.”

Feature image: Steve Christo

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Paloma Darjani
Paloma Darjani
Covering the Western Sydney Wanderers for the 2021/22 season. Studying a Bachelor of Media and Communications at the University of Sydney.

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