Sydney FC have been dealt a blow with injury ruling Socceroos skipper Lucas Neill out of their crucial A-League clash against Central Coast Mariners on Saturday.
Sydney revealed on Thursday defender Neill would be out for at least a week after he was diagnosed with a minor calf muscle tear.
The setback, which came after Neill was unable to complete the morning training session, took some gloss off news that captain Terry McFlynn had been re-signed for another year.
The club has also re-signed exciting young midfielder Peter Triantis for the next two seasons and reserve goalkeeper Ivan Necevski has his contract extended for another season.
Sitting a point outside the top six and with four games remaining Sydney are in a desperate battle for a finals berth.
And the loss of Neill in central defence against the Mariners, boasting the most potent attack in league, is significant.
Brazilian Tiago Calvano and Adam Griffiths are now expected to be partnered in the centre of defence.
Neill, who has played two games since signing with Sydney last month for the rest of this season, suffered the injury in the club's 2-1 loss to Perth last week but initially though it was simple tightness.
Sydney face a difficulty run of matches home playing third-placed Melbourne Victory next week, with games against leaders Western Sydney and Brisbane Roar to follow.
"He (Neill) won't play Saturday but he will hopefully be OK for the Victory game next week," coach Frank Farina said on Thursday.
"He thought his calf was just tightening up after the Perth game but there's a small tear."