Injuries won’t be an excuse for United

2013-12-13 00:00

MARITZBURG United coach Clinton Larsen won’t use the club’s dire injury situation as an excuse for the bad run they have been on.

After it seemed to be improving, with only Nhlanhla Vilakazi and Robyn Johannes unavailable until January, the situation has turned for the worse over the last few weeks.

“Michael [Morton] is not training at the moment. He’s got a niggling ankle injury that he’s been playing with for a while. [Delron] Buckley is also nursing an injury and Rheece [Evans] and Peter [Petersen] are also injured,” Larsen told The Witness after yesterday’s training session at Harry Gwala Stadium.

To make things worse for the Team of Choice, they will have to welcome third-placed Wits without defensive rock Mario Booysen, who will be serving a one-match suspension following a fourth yellow card during last week’s encounter against Ajax Cape Town at the Cape Town Stadium.

Booysen’s absence will pave the way for his younger brother David to start alongside Mohammed Awal in the heart of defence in this must-win encounter that was moved to Monday after having been originally penned for tonight.

United are stripped so thin ahead of the game that Larsen said he was considering selecting one of his impressive schoolboys to the bench.

“We have no one else.”

But, Larsen said he wasn’t going to make excuses. “The players that come in have to be able to get the job done. I’ve never come across such a situation in my short coaching career. But, despite the situation, we still need to be able to grind out results,” he said, adding that the club’s star for the season, goalkeeper Shu-Aib Walters, has also been playing with a niggling injury.

“After these two games — Wits and Mamelodi Sundowns — the guys will go off and get some treatment and that’ll give us a chance to have everyone back by January.”

Speaking about Vilakazi, who was injured in pre-season just after joining the club from Ajax Cape Town, Larsen said he was hungry to show what he was about and that keeping him motivated wasn’t hard.

“He hasn’t kicked a ball for the club in an official match, so he’s hungry to get in and show what he can do,” Larsen said about the player former coach Ernst Middendorp planned to use as his main link between midfield and attack before he got injured.

“He is coming along nicely with rehab and we hope to have him back by the time we play Polokwane City [on January 21]. We hope he’ll be prepared to be available for the squad.”

United’s remaining two games ahead of the Christmas break are by no means a walk in the park. Gavin Hunt’s Wits have been slowly making their way up the table and currently sit in third, while Pitso Mosimane’s Sundowns have been bulldozing teams — apart from the newly promoted duo of Polokwane City and Mpumalanga Black Aces — for fun with their attacking play and quality in the squad from the back right up to the players sitting in the executive suite.

But, Larsen remained positive and said they were going to aim for the maximum complement of points from the two games. “We have to go for the six points. We’d like to close the first half of the season on 18 points and start the second round a lot stronger than we did the first,” he said.

Despite going on a run that last saw them claim a victory in October, Larsen said they have been able to keep the players motivated.

Once the transfer window opens on New Year’s Day, he said they would work hard behind the scenes to try and bring in a striker who can improve their fortunes up front.

“We’re not scoring. Hopefully we’ll be able to get a bit of business done in that department,” he said.

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