Wellington Phoenix have been hit by the news captain Alex Rufer is facing 12 months on the sidelines after rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
The Nix are priced at 1/2 to finish in the top six and play A-League finals this season so losing their captain for the rest of the campaign and beyond will come as a huge blow.
Rufer has started in all 14 of Wellington's A-League matches this season and was producing some of his best form when disaster struck against Brisbane at the weekend.
The 25-year-old suffered the injury during a tackle on Roar midfielder Rahmat Akbari and now the club's worst fears have been confirmed by scans.
Coach Ufuk Talay admits it is a big blow to lose his skipper but says it presents an opportunity for other players to step up to the plate and fill his boots.
"We really feel for Alex as he has been playing some of his best football in recent weeks," Talay told the club's website. "It’s also a major setback for the team to lose their captain midway through the season.
"Alex has grown into a fantastic leader and will be missed, but it’s an opportunity for other players to step up in his absence."
The club say Rufer will undergo surgery in four to six weeks and is then looking at 12 months of rehab before being able to return to the side.
In the meantime vice-captain, goalkeeper Oli Sail will lead the side. Although he is away with the All Whites this weekend so the Nix will have a new skipper for the match against the Newcastle Jets.