Ward up to four weeks away

An optimistic Ernie Merrick is hoping to have Nick Ward, who's been laid low by a nasty staphylococcus infection, fit and available inside a month.


An optimistic Ernie Merrick is hoping to have Nick Ward, who's been laid low by a nasty staphylococcus infection, fit and available inside a month.

The versatile Ward, who hasn't played since scoring one of the goals of the season in the Victory's 2-0 win over Adelaide at Hindmarsh Stadium late last month, was released from hospital on Thursday but remains on an intravenous drip.

"He's gone down in the Guinness Book of Records for the most unusual injuries," said Merrick after training at Olympic Park on Friday. "It's very unfortunate, a golden staph infection in the abdomen."

"Apparently one-in-three people carry golden staph on their skin and it can enter the body in a variety of ways, even through massage."

"What he has to do now is have an intravenous drip and he's doing that now in a portable fashion with a needle in his arm and he has to have that for the next two weeks with the antibiotics going in."

"Then we have to see how much strength he's got to lose and how much time it will take to get him conditioned again, but we don't expect to have him for the next three or four weeks."

Ward's ongoing absence, said Merrick, coming on top of Billy Celeski's season-ending knee injury had robbed the Victory of some much-needed flexibility and tested the squad's depth.

But Merrick's expecting the 24-year-old to make a full recovery.

"He's pretty flat but he got out of hospital yesterday and he feels much better," Merrick said. "He's looking quite good but he has lost weight."

"He's on the road to recovery now, as is Billy Celeski and we've got a couple of good replacements coming in from overseas hopefully in the next couple of weeks."

"It's a case of our squad depth being tested and we've responded really well."