Heavy schedule takes its toll

Adelaide United Head Coach Rini Coolen is counting the cost after the club’s recent chaotic run of fixtures left the Reds with an increasingly lengthy injury list ahead of Sunday’s match with Melbourne Victory.

Adelaide United Head Coach Rini Coolen is counting the cost after the club-s recent chaotic run of fixtures left the Reds with an increasingly lengthy injury list ahead of Sunday-s match with Melbourne Victory.

A number of Reds- players were feeling the effects of a fifth game in 17 days following the 1-0 loss to table toppers Brisbane Roar at Hindmarsh Stadium last night.

The most notable injury was the fractured left fibula to midfielder Joe Keenan in the dying minutes of the game, effectively ruling him out of having any chance to feature in the rest of the season.

On top of Keenan-s prognosis, Coolen has Nigel Boogaard, Cassio, Marcos Flores and Adam Hughes all in a race against the clock to be available for the clash with the Victory.

MRI scans revealed Boogaard and Flores both have mild groin strains, while Cassio is being hampered by a hamstring problem and Hughes is in a battle to recover from general soreness.

“Joey Keenan has broken his fibula so he-s out for the season. We feel real sorry for him, he-s played well in the last couple of games,” Coolen confirmed this morning.

The quartet-s progress will be monitored throughout the week and Coolen is remaining optimistic of having them available for the trip to Melbourne. Boogaard, Flores and Cassio all have mild strains from the exhausting match against Brisbane, and Coolen says the chance of them playing will be a day by day proposition.

“He (Boogaard) said it was feeling a little bit better today than yesterday so that could be positive but we have to find out if it-s good enough for him to play,” Coolen said.

“The next challenge is to prepare and get everybody fit for the next game, a real important game against Melbourne Victory.”

“We have to wait two or three days because then I know exactly if the likes of Cassio and Flores are going to make it. I prefer to stay positive. We have good medical staff and they prepare the players well, so we-ll just try to stay focused and positive that I can use them.”

“But you can-t take a risk…so we-ll find out how they go during the week.”

Coolen revealed the Reds were feeling the pinch at half time against the Roar after the club had played two midweek games in succession, but with how significant the top of the table match was in the context of the Reds- season, the home side continued to fight on valiantly, then only to be pipped by a goal.

“When I saw all the problems we had at half time it was because of what we-ve had over the past few weeks with the schedule,” Coolen said.

“We tried to keep as many players on the pitch as possible (against the Roar) knowing it is a real important game for us. We took some risks and at the end of the day if you lose the game it-s not positive, but losing a coupe of players, I have more problems with that.”

“That-s what you find out in this last couple of weeks. Playing five games in 17 days you-re asking for problems. That-s not only Adelaide, a lot of clubs have it and it-s not easy to change it.”

These latest setbacks leave United with nine players on what has been a growing injury list, but Coolen should get some respite with the necessary clearance paperwork for foreign signings Francisco Ususcar and Andy Slory expected to come through this week, making them eligible to take on Melbourne.

“I hope everything will be ok with the papers for the players (Usucar and Slory), and more than likely they-re in the squad, we-ll have to find out during the week if they start on the bench or start directly,” Coolen said.

The loss to the Roar only compounded the Reds- high injury toll, Coolen conceding the race for the Premiers Plate was as good as decided as United fell 11 points behind the league leaders. But despite the defeat, the Dutchman was proud with his team-s performance and said the priority for the Reds was to now cement second spot.

“If you want to keep the pressure on Brisbane you had to win that game,” Coolen said.

“Now it-s already a big job to stay in position number two…so forget position number one, the next challenge is can we stay in position number two, can we keep it.”

“For that we have to at least play at the same level we did yesterday, create more chances because that is the only thing that wasn-t good enough, and we have to win a lot of games to stay in second.”