The Wellington Phoenix brains trust will meet today to discuss whether or not to seek an injury replacement player for Paul Ifill.
The star striker will be out for 4-6 weeks after going under the knife yesterday to "clean out his right ankle."
Ifill, 33, is the club's all-time leading goalscorer but has just two penalties to his name this season as the Phoenix languish in seventh place after 11 rounds.
He had told reporters during the season that injury was no excuse for his lack of form but coach Ricki Herbert disagreed.
"The injury has obviously been affecting Paul's form and rather than wait till the end of the season I felt it best to get it done now," Herbert said.
"It is in his best interest, and ours, to have him back to his best for the rest of the season."
It has been an unhappy week for Ifill, who was allegedly racially abused during Sunday's 3-1 loss to Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium.
Phoenix general manager David Dome said he would meet with Herbert and club owners today to discuss the option of an injury replacement.
"But given the timeframe, that he might only be out for a month, that is probably unlikely," Dome said.
The Phoenix do have plenty of other attacking options in their existing squad, and this season's leading goalscorer, Jeremy Brockie, will probably replace Ifill in the starting lineup after recovering from his hamstring injury.
Teenaged Kiwi striker Tyler Boyd and Solomon Islands international Benjamin Totori are also in line for increased roles in tomorrow's home game against A-League leaders Central Coast.
Dome said today's discussions would also include the search for a replacement for striker Mirjan Pavlovic, who was released by mutual consent last month.
A shortlist has been drawn up and while Herbert has previously said he was hunting for an attack-minded player, Dome said that was "not necessarily" the case anymore.
The club's form woes have extended to the Phoenix A team, who were beaten 4-0 by Team Wellington on Wednesday night.
Solomon Islands international Henry Fa'arodo scored a brace, while Tobias Bertsch - a Phoenix academy member - and Cory Chettleburgh were also amongst the goals.
Phoenix A coach Chris Greenacre was unhappy with the performance and even entered the fray himself in the dying stages.
"From an individual point of view there will be some players very disappointed with their performance," Greenacre said.
"Team Wellington were first to every ball because we just weren't there tonight."
Totori, Alex Smith and Michael Boxall were among the players used at David Farrington Park.
The Mariners have named a 16-man squad for the trip to Wellington, with former Socceroo Mile Sterjovski included after recovering from injury.
Brockie in for Ifill is the only change to the Phoenix squad.
- The Dominion Post
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