Celeski to miss rest of season

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick has confirmed that injured midfielder Billy Celeski will miss the rest of the 2009/10 Hyundai A-League season after rupturing his knee during Thursday night's 1-1 draw against Newcastle at Etihad Stadium.

Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick has confirmed that injured midfielder Billy Celeski will miss the rest of the 2009/10 Hyundai A-League season after rupturing his knee during Thursday night's 1-1 draw against Newcastle at Etihad Stadium.

Merrick said that Celeski had suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament injury after landing awkwardly on his left leg while going for a header in the opening minutes of the draw against the Jets.

It is yet another early-season injury blow for the reigning champions, who were also missing skipper Kevin Muscat (hamstring), veteran striker Danny Allsopp (thigh), Evan Berger (groin) and Costa Rican star Carlos Hernandez to international duty for the clash against the Jets.

But Muscat, Allsopp and Hernandez should return for the Victory's next match - at home against Wellington Phoenix on Sunday week.

Merrick said he was devastated to see Celeski suffer such a serious injury on Thursday night.

"It's pretty tough to lose a player of that sort of quality," Merrick said of Celeski - a key figure in last year's championship-winning season.

"In fact it's been very hard to get out the 11 we have been working on for 17 weeks of pre-season training and we still had five of our first team out (against Newcastle) and now it looks like the season is over for Billy Celeski."

Merrick said he felt the Victory played well against the Jets considering their high injury toll but was left frustrated after the visitors pinched a late equaliser after Melbourne had dominated the match and led through a 42nd-minute header from Archie Thompson.

"But the good thing is we are playing good football despite having to change the team so much," Merrick said.

"It (Newcastle's equaliser) was about the only chance they had in the second half and it was a hopeful cross and we had three defenders on their two strikers and they got the header in."

But Melbourne Victory right-back Matthew Kemp took responsibility for the goal saying he should never have allowed Tarek Elrich to get his pinpoint cross in, which Labinot Haliti headed home in the 86th minute to deny Melbourne the three points.

"I thought we did enough to win the game but unfortunately I made a mistake at the back and that cost us dearly but that is the way football is because you can't make mistakes like that," Kemp said.

"That is my job to stop crosses and I didn-t do that and I apologise to the boys for that."

"It's a tough result and two points from three home games so far isn't good enough."

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