Lucas Pantelis' knee injury keeps him on ice

SAM WORTHINGTON
Last updated 05:00 18/07/2012
Lucas Pantelis
SHANE WENZLICK/Fairfax NZ
BAD NEWS: Lucas Pantelis will not play for the Phoenix this year after his recovery from a ruptured ACL and cartilage tears was delayed by an infection.

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Last season's star recruit, Lucas Pantelis, won't make his Wellington Phoenix debut this calendar year as he continues to recover from emergency surgery in Adelaide.

The former Adelaide United winger was signed to replace Marco Rojas last year but ruptured the ACL in his left knee during the pre-season.

Pantelis spent the entire 2011-12 A-League rehabbing and was a big part of coach Ricki Herbert's plans for 2012-13.

But in a cruel twist, Pantelis' knee blew up with a severe infection last month while he was on holiday in Adelaide.

Phoenix physio Wayne Roberts said the 30-year-old would miss at least the opening three months of the season, which starts on October 6 at home to Sydney FC.

"He's going to see the surgeon at the end of the month and we'll make a call then to see how long his rehab is going to be," Roberts said.

"He's still on antibiotics and he will be for a long time, a few months yet. He definitely won't be ready for the start of the season. It'll be January at the earliest."

Jimmy Downey, who, like Pantelis, was signed under Terry Serepisos' ownership last year, also continues to battle injury woes.

The 24-year-old utility made seven appearances last season and has been sidelined during the pre-season with a new right knee injury.

Roberts said Downey had had "a microfracture technique" to stimulate growth in his knee cartilage.

"He's now at week nine of his rehab, so he's got another three weeks before he can run. But he'll definitely be in the mix for the start of the season."

Goalkeeper Mark Paston should be back to full training within a fortnight after having screws removed from his leg, while Vince Lia - the frontrunner to play right back - is "one to two weeks" away as he nurses what is thought to be an ankle sprain.

Meanwhile, Chris Greenacre will today be confirmed as the club's assistant coach.

The move has been well signposted as Greenacre combined coaching work while playing last season but the 34-year-old will be strictly barking orders this season.

Greenacre holds a Uefa B coaching licence and is working towards his A licence.

The Phoenix are also close to confirming their pre-season tour of India in late August-September.

It is expected a touring party of 26, including players and staff, will play a game against the Jets in Newcastle en route to India for three games.

A handful of the club's academy prospects will make the trip as Herbert weighs up his final two under-21 squad positions.

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