Further ALM fixture chaos due to COVID-19

Ed Jackson |

The A-League Men’s competition continues to be severely impacted by Australia’s COVID-19 outbreak with two more of this week’s fixtures postponed.

Several positive cases within the Wellington Phoenix squad means they won’t play on Saturday against Perth — with the Glory last in action more than a month ago.

Sunday’s match between hosts Western Sydney Wanderers and Melbourne Victory has also been postponed after the visitors recorded three positive cases in latest tests.

The postponements come after Macarthur FC announced on Monday their game against Western United on Friday at Campbelltown Stadium was off.

In a statement released on Tuesday, league officials said the decision was made with both teams having only just returned to training after periods of isolation due to COVID outbreaks to give them more time for conditioning.

It means just two matches, both on Saturday, remain on the schedule for this weekend — the F3 derby between Central Coast and Newcastle in Gosford and Sydney FC’s home clash with Brisbane Roar at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium.

Only three matches have been played in the competition since Boxing Day due to COVID-19 issues while there are also concerns about the impact of the virus on player’s fitness as they return to training and playing.

Socceroos international Rhyan Grant, one of the most high-profile players to have tested positive, admitted it had taken him a while to recover from the illness.

The high-energy fullback came off the bench after recovering for Sydney’s win over the Phoenix on December 19 and started the 3-0 win over Macarthur on Boxing Day.

Before Wednesday’s FFA Cup quarter-final against the Roar, Grant said he had potentially underestimated the toll the virus had taken on his physical wellbeing prior to his playing return.

“I thought I felt quite good initially straight after it but I think in hindsight, looking back, it did take a good couple of weeks to get back to feeling fully fresh,” the 30-year-old said.

“Obviously you go through different bouts of heavy energy and then the next day, I suppose you’re a little bit more lethargic than you’re used to.

“It’s one of my strengths being able to continue with the energy throughout games or training and I sort of found that a little bit difficult at times.

“But I’ve been saying to a number of people the last few days, it’s the best I’ve felt for a long time.

“Hopefully that lasts and I can take that into the games coming up and really have an impact.”