Elrich blow for Mariners

The Central Coast Mariners have suffered a major blow with news that key midfielder Ahmad Elrich will miss the remainder of the Hyundai A-League season with a knee injury.

The Central Coast Mariners have suffered a major blow with news that key midfielder Ahmad Elrich will miss the remainder of the Hyundai A-League season with a knee injury.

Elrich was taken from the field early in the Mariners 4-2 victory over the Queensland Roar on Sunday and was later found to have ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament in his knee.

The 27-year-old will undergo surgery on his knee next week and is hopeful of returning to training in mid 2009.

"Personally, it's obviously a devastating blow for me, especially considering how fit I was feeling and how much progress I had made throughout the pre-season and the early part of the Hyundai A-League season," Elrich said.

"However, it's good that I know exactly what I'm dealing with as I've been through this exact procedure before and I've come back from it ­ I know that I'll come back again."

Although disappointed with the news, Elrich vows to return in time to help the Mariners in their planned 2009 AFC Champions League campaign.

"Now, the hard work starts for me in terms of looking after myself during this long break and taking the careful steps to get back to where I was only recently and I know that with the help of the Mariners, my team-mates and with my family close by, I can return to my best and hopefully contribute in some way to our AFC Champions League campaign," Elrich said.

"It's bad news, he was really starting to come good for us," disappointed Mariners coach Lawrie McKinna said.

"He gives us a lot of options in attack. On the plus side Matty Osman came on and did a good job."

There was some more bad news for the Mariners on the injury front, with Dean Heffernan suffering a setback to his injured leg.

Heffernan's leg is now back in plaster and he won't return to the Mariners side until November.

"It's great to have located the current problem and to now be on the right track to putting this injury behind me for good," Heffernan said.

"I've maintained a good level of general fitness throughout my rehabilitation and I'm confident that upon commencing light training I'll be in a position to put my hand up for selection soon after and it goes without saying that I'm itching to get back onto the pitch and contribute to the new season."

In better news for the reigning A-League Premiers, midfielder Greg Owens is expected to return to the Mariners line-up by mid October, while Adrian Caceres should be available for selection in a fortnight.