English forward to miss start of Tasman season with ankle issue
Impressive English striker Kieran Smith will miss the start of Tasman United's national league season after suffering a nasty pre-season ankle injury.
Smith was injured in the opening 10 minutes of Tasman's friendly against Southern United at Christchurch's English Park on Sunday, which they drew 1-1.
Coach Davor Tavich said Smith was scheduled to meet the physio on Monday, but expected him to miss a "couple of weeks", ruling him out of their ISPS Handa Premiership opener away to Hamilton Wanderers on October 22.
"It's a big blow. I'm not very optimistic of him playing [the first game]. It looks very nasty and swollen. It's a big loss, no doubt about it."
Smith was one of Tasman's best in their first pre-season match against Canterbury United on September 24, scoring a goal and setting up another in a 4-2 loss.
Young Auckland striker Abdulla Al-Kalisy replaced Smith and again caught the eye having scored in the Canterbury game, while then on trial.
Vanuatu centre back Brian Kaltack donned a Tasman shirt for the first time on Sunday, playing the second half, and Tavich was excited by his potential.
Kaltack is set to miss the season opener because of visa issues. Tavich said he would have to briefly leave New Zealand and return on the new visa.
"He'll stay with us for the next few weeks and hopefully in that time the visa comes through.
"He gives us a lot of strength in the back four. I thought he was very nice on the ball, some very nice passes and distribution. It was very nice to have him."
Tasman's new centre forward Maksym Kowal, a Canadian of Ukrainian heritage, opened the scoring against Southern in about the 60th minute with a "lovely goal".
Tavich said Kowal received a well placed long ball from right back Alex Ridsdale and managed to get around the defender and smash it home just outside the box.
Southern equalised about 10 minutes later, which disappointed Tavich, with the goal coming about through some poor defending.
He said the performance was another step forward from the Canterbury pre-season outing and was satisfied with how his team were tracking two weeks out from their first proper game.
"There was an obvious improvement in possession when we had the ball. There's still a few things to work on in the defensive set-up.
"I think we're coming along nicely."
Tasman will have a hit-out against their youth side on Thursday with Tavich also trying to arrange a final pre-season clash against a Mainland side the following week.