Wellington coach Gemma Lewis says her winless A-League Women side are unable to bring in reinforcements despite being “down to the bones” as they travel to face Adelaide on Friday evening.
With forward Kelli Brown still experiencing concussion symptoms, defender Mackenzie Barry under a cloud and two other unnamed players struggling with injury, Lewis said she had sought clarity from the Australian Professional Leagues (APL) about adding players to her squad.
But when asked by AAP what scope she had to bolster her side midway through the season, the Wellington coach was at a loss.
“I’d love to know, it’s a real grey area which we have as a team,” she said.
“It’s almost like we are operating under different rules to other teams.
“Other teams are bringing in short-term injury cover, guest players and everything under the sun.
“We see the announcements and we’re like: ‘Wow, it’d be great if we had access to this stuff because it might really help at the moment’.
“At the moment we are really stretched. You’ve got a squad of 20 and we’re getting down to the bones.”
When the Phoenix were introduced to the competition this season, the move was heralded as a boost for the women’s game in New Zealand, however, the club were told they could only sign a maximum of 11 New Zealanders and at least seven players had to be Australian.
If the club ventured into the transfer market for a visa player they would have to release one of their young New Zealanders – given the club is at its quota – to make it happen.
Similarly, any injury-replacement player would have to be the same nationality as the player they are replacing.
It makes life hard for Lewis who, after watching Wellington throw away a 2-0 lead against Brisbane to lose 3-2 on the weekend, has warned her side of the “chaos” as they prepare to face Adelaide.
“They live in chaos, they love it,” she said.
“I think they thrive under chaos and I think they’ll put us under the pump and force us to turn over possession high.
“We’ve done sessions on how to live within that panic and not letting them dictate the game.”