THE Wellington Phoenix have been dealt a blow on the eve of the A-League with new signing Lucas Pantelis ruled out for the entire season.
An MRI scan on the left knee injury he sustained in the Phoenix' pre-season friendly against Central Coast Mariners has revealed an ACL rupture, along with tears to the cartilage and meniscal.
Phoenix physiotherapist Wayne Roberts said the injury would rule the midfielder out for the whole season.
"We are waiting for a date to be set for surgery and expect that to happen in the next two weeks," Roberts said.
Pantelis joined the Phoenix from Adelaide United during the pre-season and the Australian is still coming to terms with what has happened. The midfielder also missed the entire 2006-07 season due to a knee injury.
"It is a big blow," Pantelis said. "Not only to me personally but being new to the club you somehow feel you are letting your team-mates down.
"The hardest thing with a long-term injury is accepting what has happened, and I admit I still haven't done that.
"I think my mindset will change once I've had the operation because I will have something to aim at.
"At the moment I'm still gutted but once I can rehabilitate I will be aiming to come back better and stronger next season."
The Phoenix open the season this Sunday against Gold Coast United at Skilled Park. The side will also be without Mirjan Pavlovic for the start of the season after the young striker broke his arm at training last week.
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