Canberra United's Emma Ilijoski will be forced to sit out her second A-League Women's fixture in two weeks after another COVID scare, adding a further blow to the side's defensive set-up.
The side was prepared to line up without defensive stalwart Karly Roestbakken - who was called up to Tony Gustavsson's pre-Asian Cup training squad - against Sydney FC on Saturday night. Ilijoski, however, has also been ruled out.
United head coach Vicki Linton confirmed the 19-year-old was deemed a close contact and would not be able to play.
"She will not be eligible this week. That's a challenge for us because she's such an important player within our backline, so it's hard to cover for that," Linton said.
"We've had a couple of things in regards to our player availability so that might hurt our aspirations a little bit, but we'll just have to see what the outcome is over the next day leading into the game."
MORE CANBERRA SPORT:
- Roestbakken farewells injury-ridden year, starts 2022 on front foot
- 'Love will always win': Cavallo abuse shows it's time for A-Leagues pride round
- Para-athletics equipment registry on the radar of Athletics Australia
- Low announces familiar Canberra face as her new coach
- Beijing Paralympians to receive medal funding as summer para-athletes left out
Linton remained tight-lipped on player availability and only confirmed Ilijoski was out of her line-up, despite hinting more could be deemed unavailable.
Ilijoski re-entered the squad for Canberra's match against Adelaide United last week, after being forced to miss the side's previous game against Perth Glory waiting for a PCR test result.
"It was a pretty hard week for Em. That would have been really stressful for her going through that period," United's head coach said.
"She's been a key player for Canberra over the last year. So it was really important for us to have her back in. She didn't get a lot of training during the week, so that's challenging for her. She's still a young player, still learning and improving, but she came in and ... it helped us solidify that situation."
Although United will line up without Ilijoski and Roestbakken, the Sky Blues will also be without star strikers Remy Siemsen and Cortnee Vine due to the Matildas camp.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: