Melbourne Victory midfielder Marco Rojas has been ruled out of the Oly Whites Oceania qualifying campaign for the London Olympics after his jaw was fractured by Wellington Phoenix defender Manny Muscat's elbow during Friday's night's A-League clash at AAMI Park.
Rojas was also concussed by the collision 18 minutes into the Victory's 3-0 triumph. He was meant to fly to New Zealand yesterday to join the under-23 squad in Taupo ahead of tomorrow's group game against Tonga but coach Neil Emblen now has to cover the playmaker's absence.
The 20-year-old, who switched from the Phoenix to Melbourne at the end of last season, was taken to hospital for scans as the match continued and had no recollection of the incident that drew no sanction from referee Chris Beath.
Emblen made contact with Melbourne Victory's medical staff who confirmed his worst fears.
"He's an important part of our squad so it's sad that we've not been able to bring him in, and we're gutted for Marco as we know how much he was looking forward to helping us reach the Olympics," he said.
Under tournament rules, a replacement player cannot be not be called in.
New Zealand opened their campaign with a 1-0 win over Papua New Guinea on Friday.
The top two sides in both pools advance to the Thursday's semifinals ; the winner of Saturday's final claims the region's solitary berth for London 2012.
- © Fairfax NZ News