Western United defender Josh Risdon set for another extended spell on the sidelines

Western United is set to be without Josh Risdon for an extended period, with coach Mark Rudan confirming scans had revealed the serious nature of the injury the Socceroos defender suffered against Newcastle Jets.

Making just his third appearence of 2020-21, Risdon was forced from the field just 22 minutes into his side’s 2-0 win over the Jets after an innocuous collision with former teammate Apostolos Stamatelopoulos – heading straight down the player’s race in the aftermath.  

Rudan confirmed post-game that Risdon had suffered an injury to the opposite leg to the one that had previously kept the right-back from the field for the first half of the season, and that he was set for scans on Tuesday. 

Unfortunately for the 14-time Socceroo, said scans didn’t augur positive news. 

“He had the first set of scans [yesterday] and it’s not looking good,” Rudan on Wednesday. “We’ll get more information today, there’s a second set of scans he needs to do, but it’s not looking good initially. 

“Best case scenario is two to three weeks. Worst case scenario is a lot worse than that – [potentially] season ending. 

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“[It] was spoken about this morning, to the group. To get around him and make sure that we lift his spirits. 

“He’s had a tough time of it. I guess the shining light for Rizzo [Risdon] is that he had his newborn baby Taj; his son was born a couple of months back now and that’s keeping his spirits up now. 

“But it’s been a tough one for Josh. We all know how important he is to our football club and our team. 

“He finally gets himself back in there and then an innocuous challenge from a good friend in Stama [Stamatelopoulos] puts him out for at least a month, maybe longer.”

Set to commence a four-game run of away games against Adelaide United on Friday evening, Western will be boosted by the return of Brendan Hamill and Tomislav Uskok from suspension.

However, beyond Risdon, the Western Melbourne side has also been confronted with knocks to two of their young guns in Dalibor Markovic and Luke Duzel. 

“Dalibor, we’re still going through scans with him as well. Not looking good either,” said Rudan.

“[Duzel’s] groin that he tweaked in the warm-up [against Newcastle], he probably needs a couple more days to get over that.”

Western is set to fly in and out of Adelaide for their clash with the Reds but, with the injury bug biting, will then take an extended road trip for their games against Brisbane Roar, Western Sydney and Perth Glory – the club not planning on returning to Victoria until preparations for their May 15 game against Sydney FC begin. 

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“We’ve got to continue to concentrate on ourselves,” Rudan said on the Adelaide game. “I was very pleased with our performance with the ball morso than without the ball against Newcastle.

“Whether I go with the same formation [Western deployed a hitherto unseen back four against Newcastle] or tweak it again, I’m yet to decide that but we’ll certainly work on both formations.

“But we’ve got to be better both with the ball and without the ball. Adelaide is a different proposition, in Adelaide, than what Newcastle was. They’ve obviously got players that can hurt you, they’ve got pace and love to make forward runs. 

“You’ve got to make sure that we are wary of their frontline with their forward runs and the quality of their play as well. Stefan Mauk makes some good runs into the box as well, so we’ve got to make sure we’re on top of those things. 

“More importantly, we’ve got to keep playing the way we play. We’ve got to keep them off the ball and make sure we’re better with the ball.”

Western’s four-game run of away games comes off the back of the club setting an unwanted record for the lowest ever crowd at a non-behind closed doors A-League fixture. Just 990 people made their way to AAMI Park for the club’s win over the Jets – 13 less than the previous low-point set by North Queensland Fury and Brisbane Roar back in 2010-11. 

Club CEO Chris Pehlivanis told The World Game on Tuesday that the club was taking a long-term approach to building a fan base in response to the low figure. 

“I was only made aware of that this morning,” Rudan said of the sparse attendance. “I don’t really read too much [football media], I’ll be honest with you, we’ve got so many games coming up my focus is on the team.

“You can look at it in different ways. 

“You can look at it as we didn’t have much time to promote that game, it’s a Monday night against Newcastle – who are coming last. 

“But the bigger one from me, having worked in the media, is the media play [surrounding the coverage that has resulted]. I think we all understand how it works, I certainly understand how it works. 

“Don’t ever forget the fact that TV rights are up for grabs and everyone is trying to lowball the league at the moment to try and grab the rights. 

“I know there’s a hell of a lot of interest in the league and it’s maybe a ploy by certain companies and organisations to lowball it. 

“You’ve got to be smart enough and understand that’s a factor that’s going on here as well. 

“But it’s got nothing to do with me. At the end of the day I’m the coach, and it’s my job to win football games for this football club.”

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Header Image Credit: Western United

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