The Wellington Phoenix's problems have been compounded with star striker Paul Ifill ruled out of A-League action for at least a month, and possibly six weeks.
Ifill entered hospital today for an operation to clean out his right ankle and physiotherapist Wayne Roberts said it would be four to six weeks before he is back in action.
Coach Ricki Herbert said it was disappointing to lose such an influential player over what is a busy period, but it was in Ifill's best interestes to have the operation immediately.
"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."
The Phoenix are currently seventh of 10 teams after 11 rounds, with three wins, three draws and five losses, and they've copped criticism, including from co-owner Gareth Morgan, about their unattractive style of play.
Ifill's absence will do little to help matters.
- Fairfax Media