Aspro out for long stint after tearing ACL

The Wanderers' Jonathan Aspropotamitis (L) is determined to come back stronger from an ACL injury.
The Wanderers' Jonathan Aspropotamitis (L) is determined to come back stronger from an ACL injury.

Jonathan Aspropotamitis is determined to come back stronger from a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament set to keep the first-choice Western Sydney defender out for up to 12 months.

In another hit to the Wanderers' tempestuous A-League finals quest, Aspropotamitis will require surgery before embarking on the long road of rehabilitation.

The central defender was forced off the field during the first half of Saturday's National Youth League final win over Melbourne City, and scans on Monday revealed the severity of the injury.

Cruelly, Aspropotamitis had only been called on to play in the youth side's 3-1 extra-time triumph after captain Tass Mourdoukoutas was ruled out with an ankle knock.

The 21-year-old, who has flourished since breaking into the first team over the past two seasons, said "unfinished business" was already fuelling his return.

"Playing a small part in helping the boys and the club win the Y-League final was very satisfying. It was a great achievement for the team and the people involved at the club," Aspropotamitis said.

"While it's been soured a little due to my injury, I've already had so many messages of support from the coaches, the staff at the club and my teammates.

"I've seen other players go through this and become stronger from the experience and that is what I'm focused on, my recovery and becoming a stronger player both mentally and physically.

"I know what this club stands for, what people and facilities we have here and I know I'm in the best place to recover.

"I've had four years at the club and I plan on being here for a lot longer.

"I feel now more than ever I have a lot of unfinished business here."

The injury is a massive blow for Josep Gombau's already-depleted defensive stocks, leaving Michael Thwaite and Brendon Hamill as the only available senior centre-backs following Robbie Cornthwaite's exit last month.

He must now attempt to find an injury replacement, no small feat given the January transfer window has closed.

It only adds to the burden for Gombau, who has overseen an inconsistent period since taking charge at the end of October.

Only on Sunday, the coach was forced to play down an ongoing rift with marquee striker Oriol Riera after the sixth-placed Wanderers beat Central Coast 2-1 in Gosford.

Fuming at Riera's apparent flouting of his tactical instructions, he had to be talked out of substituting the Spanish forward in the first 15 minutes.

He ended up scoring the deciding goal of the Wanderers' first win in five games.

It comes after midfielder Kearyn Baccus refused to play against Perth Glory last week, angry the club had rejected a transfer request from an overseas club.