Graham Arnold has cast doubt over Terry Antonis' availability for the Olyroos' AFC Championship Qualifiers next weekend after the midfielder failed to take part in Sydney FC's loss to Melbourne City FC on Friday night.
Antonis was conspicuously absent from Arnold's teamsheet as City brought an end to the Sky Blues nine-game unbeaten streak in the opening match of #EraseRacism Round at Allianz Stadium.
The midfielder has been struggling with a knee injury Arnold said was picked up on Asian Cup duty and although he was able to train this week was not considered match fit.
WRAP: Sydney FC 0 Melbourne City FC 1
“His knee is not really great,” Arnold told reporters after the match. “He's had an injection, he's still in pain and I don't want him to go away with the Olympic team.
“I think that if he can't play tonight, then I don't see why we should let him go.
“He came back from the Socceroos with it. We've been trying to manage him to get it better but last week it flared up again.”
The Sky Blues boss was left to rue his side's finishing after they missed the chance to go top of the table for the first time since February 2010.
The free-scoring flair that had seen his side bank 25 goals in their last seven appearances firing a blank in front of goal from numerous chances.
“I thought we controlled 90% of the game,” said Arnold.
“We got hit with a sucker-punch while we were going into attack but they were pretty dangerous all night in transition - that's what their strengths are.
“Overall the players put in a fantastic effort. I thought the first-half was a good dominating performance but when we had the opportunities to score we didn't score, so that's when you leave your opposition in the game.”
Despite his disappointment at the result Arnold was philosophical about the final scoreline, emphasising he expected there to be many more twists and turns before the end of the regular season.
“Maybe it's good timing for this to happen, five games out before the end of the season, finals series in front of us. We get back to work on Monday and move forward.
“The A-League is a league that anyone can win, so if anything it's a reality check and the opportunity to kick them up the back-side a bit and we move forward.”