Big guns out of A-League All Stars fixture
The A-League's All Stars outfit due to take on Manchester United threatens to be that in name only after crowd favourites Alessandro Del Piero, Shinji Ono and Emile Heskey all pulled out of the team on Friday.
The news is a blow to fans, some of whom have paid up to $189 a ticket, hoping to see a star-studded A-League line-up take on the English champions at a sold-out ANZ Stadium on July 20.
Instead, the All Stars concept will be sorely lacking stellar quality.
"Alessandro, Shinji and Emile have turned on great performances and brought a huge global and national profile to the A-League, so naturally the fans wanted to see them face Manchester United," Football Federation Australia boss David Gallop said in a statement.
"But we respect the fact that their personal circumstances at this time mean the All Stars game arrives at a difficult period for them to manage a one-off appearance."
The news is a further hit to the All Stars concept with several other players such as Melbourne Victory youngster Marcos Rojas and Central Coast Mariners veteran Patrick Zwaanswijk also unavailable.
Rojas has transferred to German club VfB Stuttgart since the end of the A-League season while Zwaanswijk retired after the Mariners' grand final win, leaving coach Ange Postecoglou with a limited number of options.
"These things happen in football, but I know Ange is confident of having a very competitive team that will proudly represent the A-League against the Red Devils," Gallop said.
Seven players, including Brisbane's Thomas Broich, Sydney FC's Brett Emerton and five players from Western Sydney Wanderers, have already been confirmed in the All Stars team.
A full squad will be announced on July 13.