THE fairytale return of Tahj Minniecon to professional football is over – at least for this season – after the Western Sydney Wanderers midfielder was ruled out with a foot injury.
While the news comes as a frustration to coach Tony Popovic, who threw Minniecon a career lifeline and oversaw the 23-year old’s dramatic recent weight loss, he is now preparing to dip into the transfer market once more.
Fortunately, the arrival of Rocky Visconte from Brisbane gives a ready-made option in left-midfield but that hasn’t dampened Popovic’s disappointment at seeing one of his ”project” players sidelined.
“Tahj Minniecon looks like he will be out for the rest of the year with a foot problem and he may need surgery,” he said after training. “We are still looking [for new players], we would like to add one more. There is another opportunity to add another member to the squad and if we feel there is someone out there that may bring something to the team and the squad then we will certainly do our very best to bring them in.”
While Popovic has so far been conservative on Visconte’s fitness, he is looking increasingly likely to figure in at least some capacity in Sunday’s match against his old club at Suncorp Stadium.
”He is certainly in the squad this week and we will have a look at him today and tomorrow and see whether he will feature on the weekend,” Popovic said.
While Visconte is battling with Shannon Cole and Mark Bridge for the position in left-midfield, Popovic praised the Adelaide-born winger for making a swift transition to life in Western Sydney.
“He is getting there and he is getting used to new surroundings and a new environment and a slightly different way of playing and he has adjusted well and fitted in well with the group,” Popovic said. “He is a very good young professional and is very ambitious and he wants to get to the highest level he possibly can. So we will do our very best to help him get there.”
Suncorp Stadium will be an eternally special place for the Wanderers, for it was there that they recorded their first win, a 1-0 victory over the league’s two-time defending champions in round four.
“We went there without a goal and just one point and we got a very good victory,” Popovic said. “We go there as a confident outfit all over the park and we have to be well prepared against a dangerous outfit. We don’t take any opponent lightly and especially not the reigning champions.”
Club skipper Michael Beauchamp reckons his side – considered a $10 long-shot heading into that match – are a world advanced from the one that claimed that historic win. “A lot has happened and for us personally and I think we are getting better and better,” Beauchamp said.
“In saying that, Brisbane Roar has been playing some good football but unfortunately has not been getting the results. They are still a tough team, especially up there in their own stomping ground and we are going up there looking forward to a tough match.”
There’s also a chance that Dino Kresinger could return from a knee injury but Popovic is unlikely to make too many changes to the side that triumphed 2-0 over Wellington last week.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.