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Surgery rules Ifill out for Phoenix

12:00 Thu Dec 20 2012
AAP
Paul Ifill
Paul Ifill is a big loss for the Phoenix.

Wellington Phoenix's challenging season just became more difficult with news they'll be missing star striker Paul Ifill for at least the next month.

Ifill will undergo an operation on Thursday to clean out his right ankle and club physiotherapist Wayne Roberts says he'll be out of action for four to six weeks.

Coach Ricki Herbert says it's disappointing to lose such an influential player over a busy period, but it was in Ifill's best interests to have the operation immediately.

"The injury has obviously been affecting Paul's form and rather than wait till the end of the season, I felt it best to get it done now," Herbert said.

"It's in his best interest, and ours, to have him back to his best for the rest of the season."

The Phoenix are lying seventh on the A-League table, with just three wins from 11 matches. They lost their most recent match 3-1 to Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium, where Ifill was subjected to racial abuse in an incident now being investigated by police.

Ifill has had long-standing problems after badly injuring his ankle in December 2010, only returning for the Phoenix's elimination semi-final against Adelaide in February.

He has been off his goal-scoring best this season, struggling to put in a full 90 minutes after being hit with ankle and knee injuries in a mid-September pre-season match.

The Phoenix's all-time leading scorer since signing in 2009, Ifill has just two goals to his credit this season, both penalties.

Wellington Phoenix play competition leaders Central Coast Mariners at Westpac Stadium on Saturday.