Paul Ifill, injured in the game against Havelock North Wanderers. PHOTO/FILE

FOOTBALL

JAKE BELESKI
jake.beleski@age.co.nz

The Wairarapa United men’s team must be wondering what they need to do to catch a break this season.

They have battled poor form and injury worries to make it through to the fourth round of the Chatham Cup and have kept the threat of Central League relegation at bay for now, but just when things were starting to look positive they have been struck another cruel blow.

Star striker Paul Ifill suffered a serious foot injury early in Sunday’s Central League match with Havelock North Wanderers and is now basically guaranteed to miss next weekend’s Chatham Cup match with Stop Out Sports Club, and a few Central League games after that.

Ifill was due to get a more in-depth diagnosis at physio on Monday afternoon, but early indications suggest he will miss about six weeks with separated bones in his mid-foot.

It is a difficult outcome to swallow for a United team that is clinging to hopes of Chatham Cup glory after a disappointing Central League campaign, but coach Phil Keinzley says they simply must adapt and get on with the job.

“I was really worried it was Paul’s Achilles again but it looks like dislocated bones in the foot.

“For those players who come in, it will be about adapting – it’ll be a change of role for Hamish Watson and Seule Soromon played up front for a while on Sunday which gave us another option.”

Ifill ruptured his Achilles tendon while playing for the Phoenix against Sydney FC in 2013.

The injury was so bad that Ifill retired from the Phoenix in 2015 as he was unable to fully recover from it.

The one positive of Ifill’s injury happening so early in the match was that it gave the United squad a chance to show they can still get the job done without him, and they did just that with a 4-2 win.

Keinzley said they had made it hard on themselves, but with key players Callan Elliot, Daniel Allan and Cory Chettleburgh missing, just getting the win was a significant achievement.

“It allowed me to try a few things and it was good for the confidence of the team that they know they can do it without Paul.

“We’re looking in pretty good shape.”

United have played Stop Out twice this season, losing 0-2 away from home in April and then playing out a 2-2 draw last month in Masterton.

United have produced their best form in recent weeks and will be confident they have enough firepower to get the job done, but losing Ifill makes that task a whole lot tougher.

This weekend’s match will kick off at 5.45pm on Saturday at Memorial Park in Masterton.