Victory’s finals hopes dealt cruel Kruse blow
STAR attacker Robbie Kruse could miss two months with a torn hamstring, leaving his 2019-20 season on a knife-edge, in a dagger blow for Melbourne Victory's A-League and Asian Champions League hopes.
Scans revealed a proximal hamstring tear, leaving Kruse sidelined for 6-8 weeks, after the substitute limped off in the 2-1 derby loss to Melbourne City.
Victory chiefs had initially feared his season could be over, although they might still err on the side of caution depending on whether they are in finals contention.
An eight-week stint on the sidelines would leave him available for the Round 27 visit to Western Sydney, before Victory hosts Western United (Round 28) in their last game of the season as it has a final round bye.
However, Victory's Asian campaign goes deep into May.
Capped 75 times by the Socceroos, Kruse was edging closer to a recall from Graham Arnold, with some dominant recent displays for Victory.
The diagnosis appears to be far better for Socceroos teammate, City striker Jamie Maclaren, who limped off after scoring, injuring his hamstring during the celebration.
Maclaren could still be in doubt for City's visit to Wellington Phoenix next week, but has suffered merely a strain.
Kruse only came on in the 55th minute. It was his third hamstring injury since joining Victory, although not all have been on the same side.
He lasted less than 30 minutes before limping down the tunnel and into the changerooms, leaving Victory with 10 men for the finals stages of the match.
A despondent Kruse, 31, left AAMI Park on Friday night fearing the worst, with Victory chairman Anthony Di Pietro among those to huddle around him in the physio room to check on his wellbeing.
Interim Victory coach Carlos Salvachua admitted Kruse's loss would be felt as they faced a busy three-month schedule.
"He (Kruse) is a big player for us, he's (missed) six games. He's an important player, it was more difficult of course, finishing with 10 players," Salvachua said.
"Difficult (from the) first day because we won (just) four games. We need to win six or seven games in (our last) nine (to make A-League finals). The next focus is Champions League."
Second-place City is now 14 points clear of Victory (ninth) after Uruguayan Adrian Luna and Maclaren scored impressive team goals, with the only blemish a late howler from keeper Thomas Glover, gifting Ola Toivonen a consolation.
Only sitting above battlers Central Coast and Newcastle Jets, the loss will leave Victory minimum five points outside the top six at the end of the round and scrambling to make May's finals series.
Victory hosts Thais Chiangrai United in Tuesday's Champions League opener.
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